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Geoscientist Online

Ericdotes

Ericdotes coverThe foundations for this little book were laid after Nina Morgan and Tony Doré were discussing an article of Nina’s in Geoscientist, realising the name Eric Robinson, a friend of both, cropped up frequently. They quickly recognised he was a constant source of knowledge, encouragement and information to them and many others. In late 2019, overheard at a meeting at the Geologists’ Association’s (GA) Annual Festival of Geology (FoG) discussing Eric and the many anecdotes associated with him, they thought of sharing all their memories of Eric - hence the birth of ‘Ericdotes’. 

This isn’t a conventional geology book, but is about a geologist: Eric Robinson. Eric is a ‘one off’, never afraid to forge his own path, sharing his love of subject and encouraging his many students and members of the public to follow their curiosity about the natural world. Eric is brilliant at all of this, and has become a legend in his own lifetime, freely sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with great kindness.       

In 1954 Eric got a post in the geology department at University College London (UCL), staying there until his retirement, researching ostracods and teaching. In 1969 he joined the GA, becoming Librarian, Circular Editor and President and served on the Curry Fund Committee. He became known for promoting geology to the public, with talks, walks, building stone trails, geo-games, articles in local papers and visits to geology groups, schools and many other organisations, whilst simultaneously teaching and researching at UCL.

Eric was a man before his time with his public persona and enthusiasm for engaging so generously with the public– ‘outreach’ as it is now called.

As Alan Lord, one of the sixteen generous contributors to the book notes: Eric’s role in promoting the public understanding of science and teaching was not recognised by his employers. Funding bodies were then focused entirely on research.  But as is now realised, excellent communication and teaching skills are recognised as essential in promoting scientific understanding to the public, especially in our complicated, interconnected, world of today. Eric, a man before his time, has had an abundance of these skills to share, and has showed the way forward with humour, kindness and great public spirit.

Do read the book to discover more about this remarkable and wonderfully idiosyncratic man, who still enjoys engaging with the public today!

Reviewed by Susan Brown 

ERICDOTES by Tony Doré and Nina Morgan (editors), 2020. 45 pp, £5 + P&P, available from https://geologistsassociation.org.uk/shop/