Professor named as an Inaugural Fellow of NSW Royal Society

Published 15 April 2010

stantonProfessor R.L. (Dick) Stanton AO FAA, who was Professor of Geology at the University of New England from 1975 to 1986, has been honoured by selection as an Inaugural Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales.

Professor Stanton (pictured here) and six other distinguished scientists received this honour during a reception by the Governor-General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, at Admiralty house, Sydney, on the 29th of March. Ms Bryce, who is a Patron of the Society, told the Inaugural Fellows that their award was “due recognition” of their “extraordinary contribution to matters that are at the centre of our existence and wellbeing”.

The Royal Society of New South Wales has initiated this award to recognise the very highest level of scientific or technological achievement.

Ms Bryce outlined Professor Stanton’s major discoveries about the formation and structure of metallic ore deposits. “He recognised the role of volcanism and sedimentation in the formation of new ore deposits, and the physics and chemistry involved in the concentration of copper, zinc and lead in volcanic lavas,” she said. She added that this work was “documented in his numerous publications and books”, which include Ore Petrology (1972) and The Precursor Principle (1989). His book Ore Elements in Arc Lavas, published in 1994, represents the culmination of 40 years of research on the ore deposits resulting from volcanic activity along island arcs such as the Indonesian archipelago.

Professor Stanton recalls his student days at Sydney University’s New England University College in Armidale in the 1940s as “a wonderful experience”. After work as an exploration geologist for Broken Hill South, a Lecturer in Geology at the University of Sydney, and a postdoctorate fellow at Queen’s University in Canada, he returned to Armidale in 1959 after being invited to take up a position as Senior Lecturer in Economic Geology at the University – by then the autonomous University of New England.

“The 1960s and early 1970s was a great period in the history of UNE,” said Professor Stanton, remembering some of the outstanding scholars and scientists of the day – including Robin Stokes (chemistry), Neville Fletcher (physics), Gordon McClymont (rural science), John Dillon (agricultural economics) and John Bishop (Classics and ancient history). “I count myself fortunate to have been there then.” After retiring from his personal chair at UNE in 1986 he has maintained his connection with the University as Emeritus Professor. “I’m still very attached to the place,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor of UNE, Professor Jim Barber, said the University was honoured by its association with Professor Stanton, and congratulated him on this most recent award. “Professor Stanton’s career exemplifies all that is best in the University’s legacy from the past and its aspirations for the future,” Professor Barber said.

Professor Stanton was a Royal Society Bursar at Imperial College London and the University of Durham in 1964, Hoffman Research Fellow at Harvard in 1966-67, and British Council Visitor in the Department of Geology, Oxford, in 1978-80.

He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 1975, and was Vice-President of the Academy from 1989 to 1990. In 1996 he was honoured for his achievements by being named an Officer of the Order of Australia.

Professor Stanton’s many awards include a Fulbright Award (1966), the Olle Prize of the Royal Society of New South Wales (1956) and the Society’s Medal (1973), the Inaugural President’s Award of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (1974), the Goldfields Gold Medal of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, London (1976), the William Smith Medal of the Geological Society, London (1987), the Browne Medal of the Geological Society of Australia (1990), the Penrose Medal of the Society of Economic Geologists (1993), the Haddon Forrester King Medal of the Australian Academy of Sciences (1998), and the Clarke Medal of the Royal Society of New South Wales (1998).

He became an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (London) in 1984, and was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 1991. In 1993 he was one of UNE’s Inaugural Distinguished Alumni.

At 84 years of age Professor Stanton is still as active as ever in research. “In fact, I’m now involved in the most complex piece of work I’ve ever undertaken,” he said. His current projects include collaborative work with one of his former UNE research students – Ross Large, now a Professor of Geology at the University of Tasmania – and with Professor Hugh O’Neill at the Australian National University’s Research School of Earth Sciences.

Still an active Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, “I certainly haven’t retired,” he said.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Professor Richard Stanton displayed here was taken during the reception at Admiralty House.