‘Trees are the architects of the modern world,’ says Dr Ashleigh Hood. At the end of the Devonian period, forests emerged and spread, providing a great source of oxygen via photosynthesis. So while many consider the emergence of animals to be the principal driver of contemporary life, Ashleigh’s work suggests the atmospheric oxygen provided by terrestrial plants has been foundational to the emergence of Earth’s modern biosphere.
The Royal Society of Victoria is delighted to congratulate Dr Ashleigh Hood, the 2022 recipient of the Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award, and the first to be awarded in the new category of Earth Sciences. Her research focuses on the co-evolution of life and planetary surface conditions over the last several billion years of Earth’s history. Ashleigh attained her PhD in geology from the University of Melbourne in 2014.
At the boundary between the basalts of the western suburbs of Melbourne and the Silurian sedimentary rocks of the eastern suburbs, the Merri Creek meets the Yarra River. The location is rich in the history of contact between Indigenous and European peoples, and in the industrial history of Melbourne. It holds the complex geological story of the lavas and turbidities that underpin the geography of Melbourne, told by Dr James Driscoll and Mr Rob Gell AM.
Australia’s caves were formed over millions of years, and exploring them is a journey to a hidden underworld that holds many wonders. But caves and karst landforms need our protection. They house complex ecosystems, critical habitat for plants, animals, and micro-organisms which, in many cases, cannot survive elsewhere. The biggest threat is overuse from tourism – which builds positive awareness, but also damages their natural integrity.
Bernie was a geologist and geomorphologist specialising in landslides and volcanism, especially in the Newer Volcanics Province of Western Victoria, where he worked to map the regolith landforms that tell the story of Victoria’s past while determining future volcanic risk. He applied his expertise to the neotectonics of South-Eastern Australia, the recently-active and active volcanoes of the Pacific region, and the morphotectonics of the Central Victorian Highlands.