Grad Series: Geologist

21st April 2016

[vimeo 163605634 w=640 h=360]

Through the Eyes of a Scientist from James Gilgannon on Vimeo.

It was inevitable that one day I would feature a geologist on Grad Series. The professor surrounded by books in this photo is Simon Harley, an Australian geologist and specifically a Professor of Lower Crustal Processes. His office is graced by the presence of a pet dog who I can remember being quietly allowed into Harley’s office as a puppy while I was still an undergrad in the Grant Institute, the building that holds the university’s Earth Science department.

Professor Simon Harley has graduated with many titles to now be able to sit in such an impressive office. But the geologist I’m introducing today sits behind the camera: my good friend, former flatmate, and sandal wearing geologist James Gilgannon. James made this short film called ‘Through the Eyes of a Scientist’ for his science outreach project at The University of Edinburgh, and it’s something quite special that all earth scientists will appreciate. But the film wasn’t made for geoscientists, it was made for everybody.

Watch it and you’ll find how hard it is to not be inspired. To see a scientist surrounded by his life’s work, talking about something that is so clearly his passion, is hard not to be moved by. Then you have the student, the geologist wearing the camera and seeing the geology and living the adventures that Harley reminisces about from his early field days in the 1980s. These scientists study time one after the other, and the way Harley describes it as James shows it is fascinating.

Right now James is finishing up his masters degree and soon he’ll be landing in Australia for a few months before finally settling in Switzerland to complete a PhD. That’s the thing about geologists, while it might not seem like a glamorous job, their field of work can take them all over the world. James has already studied mountain landscapes in the Alps, and been on expeditions to Cyprus and Iceland among many other places. I still remember my horror the day he moved in and I caught sight of an axe lying on the carpet in his bedroom. Still, it wasn’t nearly as alarming as his sandals in winter.


Geology is one of those things that you either find a passion for, or you don’t. As Harley very nicely puts it in this video, everyone has something that they appreciate more than anything else. For Simon and James, they appreciate the landscape, the history and the rock formations that tell the story. For somebody else it could be the plant life that they see that piques their curiosity, or maybe even the wildlife and birds.

Whatever it is, if you’re passionate about it you should share it. Write about it, make a video, take photographs; science is better with people!



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