Meet the Team
Meet the Rockwatch Management Team – a group of diverse, professionally qualified geologists and other experienced amateurs.
Seabury Salmon and Helen Connolly, although not on the Rockwatch Management Committee, are essential members of our wider Team. Their professional skills and advice as magazine publisher and website manager, are essential to the success of Rockwatch.
We’re delighted that Clare Byrne became Rockwatch Chair in January 2023. Professionally Clare trained as a physicist, teaching GCSE and A Level Physics until her recent retirement. In the meantime she also learnt rather a lot of geology which she enjoyed, so now is happy to put that knowledge into practice.
Having joined Rockwatch on a residential field trip more than 20 years ago, Clare became hooked on geology and attended the annual residential field trip for the following 10 years with her family thereafter. Over the years, Clare has helped out at numerous Rockwatch events and has been considered a friend and ‘one of the team’ long before becoming Chair.
In a message about forthcoming field trips to members Clare recently said,
“I am really looking forward to meeting Rockwatchers who have been starved of fossils over the last couple of years and whose enthusiasm will no doubt be even more evident than usual in 2023.”
I first encountered Rockwatch when I was 8 on the yearly fieldtrip and went back to Leeson House for years after. I loved heading out and chiselling away to find hidden codes in the rock of ancient life and evidence of long past geological events in the cliff sides.
I went on to study Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and became involved in student organisations and have returned to Rockwatch now to get involved in the running of a club I loved as a child.
I started out as a teenage fossil collector in West Sussex and, although I never took up geology as a career, I have always been passionate about our landscape, rocks and fossils. My later interests have moved on to the study of historic building stones and the overlap between geology and archaeology.
Fortunately, I am now retired from work, which enables me to spend even more time on geology. I give frequent talks, lead field trips and organise fossil hunts, using my collection of rocks and fossils as supporting material. I am actively engaged in several research projects on West Sussex geology and publishing local guidebooks. I have formerly been Field Meetings Secretary of the Geologists’ Association and Chair of the West Sussex Geological Society. I am currently Chair of the Sussex Geodiversity Partnership and the Tertiary Research Group.
I find that young people are amongst my most enthusiastic audiences, particularly in the classroom and on fossil hunts. I am pleased to support the Rockwatch team and meet young people who share my enthusiasm for geology. I am currently Rockwatch Treasurer.
I studied geology at St Andrews University, which was a wonderful opportunity to get to know Scotland’s scenery and to contemplate its complex structure. At that time plate tectonics had hardly entered geologists’ thinking, so it was during the next decades, whilst on the staff at the Geological Museum in London’s South Kensington that I looked for innovative ways to open up this novel concept to the public, through the Museum’s new exhibitions and books.
I moved on following the merger of the Geological Museum into the Natural History Museum; wrote three illustrated books about the Earth for Dorling Kindersley, and worked with Usborne Books. I was one of the team that brought Rockwatch club into existence in the early 1990s and have remained with the club as magazine editor throughout its history.
And my favourite geological ‘thing’ – It has to be the mineral susannite. It was first found in the Susanna vein in the Leadhills mining area of southern Scotland.
I graduated with a degree in geology and geography, trained to be a teacher and spent thirty seven years as a teacher of geography and geology in the Weymouth area. I also had a year in the oil industry as a mud logger. More recently I have been chairman of the Dorset Geologists’ Association Group and Dorset’s Important Geological Sites group (geological conservation).
In my ‘spare time’ I lead field trips for interested parties in Dorset and further afield and always enjoy being one of the leaders at the Annual Rockwatch Residential Fieldtrip to Dorset – sharing my passion for geology with young Rockwatchers and their parents.
And my favourite fossil? Probably trilobites, and my favourite piece of rock is in this photograph. It’s Wenlock Limestone with a trilobite pygidium collected at Ironbridge about 45 years ago!
I have worked in the Earth Sciences Department (formerly the Geology Department) at University College London since 1976. Originally I worked as Curator of the many thousands of specimens of rocks, minerals and fossils in the Geology collections, and spent a number of years teaching in the classroom and in the field, collecting a PhD on the way.
I have co-authored the Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals of the World, published by Kingfisher/Larousse, and worked from time to time with Dorling Kindersley, Thunder Bay Press, and Scholastic. More recent interests have included the geology of gravestones.
In my spare time, apart from geologising, I play accordion for a folk/ceilidh band, and saxophone for the Camden Light Orchestra along with a bit of tap dancing!
I could say I have geology in my blood; my father was a geologist and I have followed in his footsteps.
I studied geology in London, followed by Aberystwyth, which provided a world of geological contrast from the building stone trails, museums, and Crystal Palace dinosaurs of the city to the dramatic Palaeozoic cliffs and mountains of mid Wales.
I am a palaeontologist working with Natural England, a government organisation responsible for conserving some of England’s most important geology. That’s when I met Mary Anning (see picture) when we celebrated the establishment of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
I have been a rock and fossil enthusiast since primary school and followed this calling via batchelor and doctorate degrees in Geology from London University.
Employment as a geologist in the petroleum industry naturally followed as a new graduate and I thoroughly enjoyed this career, when no two days were alike and which enabled me to visit lots of unusual places worldwide, at someone else’s expense.
In 2015 I became semi-retired, whereupon I established myself in a new house with huge museum potential and now spend most of my time sorting out my collection – some of which has not seen the light of day for 40 years or more! I also arrange the Geologists’ Association lecture programme each year, and have been involved with Rockwatch almost from the start – organising the occasional field excursion, and attending events to help out whenever possible.
I spent years writing about nature conservation and wildlife and reporting on environmental projects in towns and cities.
While researching an article about The Lizard peninsula, Cornwall, I found the varied wildlife there was directly related to the soil and rock types of this small area. Ever since, I have seen geology as the most important influence on, not just our plants and animals, but also on where and how we live.
I have also edited and produced a geological conservation publication, Earth Heritage, and became involved with Rockwatch magazine over 10 years ago. The geology bug bit deep, because my daughter Kate has gained a degree in the subject from Durham.
Photo shows Seabury enjoying the limestone and igneous ranges of the Sierra de las Nieves in southern Spain.
I became involved in editing the Rockwatch website more than 15 years ago through a friend who works at the Geologists’ Association.
Although I’m not a geologist, over the years I’ve fallen in love with Rockwatch and the amazing team that runs the Club and happily I have a much better understanding and appreciation of our world as a result.
It’s always a delight to see the enthusiasm and love of geology in the children and young people who are members of Rockwatch. Their passion shows no bounds and this is very infectious! I admire the team of geologists greatly who dedicate their time to nurturing this passion and interest in young people. I think they’re all amazing human beings, willingly devoting their time and sharing their expertise with the next generation of geologists. Rockwatch is a brilliant club to join and be involved with and I’m very proud to play a small part in it.