Professor Robert Hill awarded Clarke Medal
Monday, 24 March 2003
The Royal Society of New South Wales has awarded the prestigious Clarke Medal for 2002 to the University of Adelaide's Professor Robert Hill for distinguished work in the natural sciences done in, or on, the Australian Commonwealth.
The sciences of Geology, Botany and Zoology have been considered for the medal on a rotational basis since 1878.
Professor Hill is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide and is also Head of Science at the South Australian Museum.
In Professor Hill's nomination, the following was submitted: "Professor Hill has had a profound impact on the study of Botany in this country. He has been instrumental in raising the profile of modern botanical studies through his own research which is of the highest international standard, through the training of numerous honours and postgraduate students, many of whom now hold botanical research positions in their own right, and through his distinguished service to botanical societies, organisations and government agencies.
"Importantly, Professor Hill's botanical research has made significant contributions to the areas of palaeobotany, plant systematics, plant ecophysiology and the application of research from these areas to interpreting changes that have occurred to the Australian flora through evolutionary time. His research has been recognised at the highest scientific levels, but most recently by the award of an Australian Research Council Senior Research Fellowship."
"This is a great honour and it is gratifying to have my work recognised," said Professor Hill, whose award was announced in Sydney on Friday night.
Professor Hill has had a lifetime interest in the evolution of the vegetation of Australia and Antarctica. He has published more than 125 refereed journal papers, 35 book chapters, several symposium papers and has edited or co-edited four books, including The History of the Australian Vegetation (Cambridge University Press), Ecology of the Southern Conifers (Melbourne University Press), The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests (Yale University Press), and Vegetation of Tasmania (Australian Biological Resources Study).
He is a graduate of the University of Adelaide. He completed his Ph.D. on Tertiary plant macrofossils in 1981, and his D.Sc. on the interaction between climate change and the evolution of the living Australian vegetation in 1997.
In 1979 he accepted a position as Tutor in Botany at James Cook University, and in 1980 he was offered a lecturing position in the Department of Botany at the University of Tasmania. He remained at the University of Tasmania until 1999, after being promoted to Professor in 1993.
He was Head of the School of Plant Science for 6 years prior to his departure, and was awarded Professor Emeritus status by the University of Tasmania Council in 2000. In 1999 he returned to the University of Adelaide to take up his current position.
Professor Hill is President and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Biology and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. His current research interest is the adaptation of the Australian vegetation to increasing aridity during the last 30 million years, and he is developing a research program on the impact of fire on the Australian vegetation during the same time period.
He is best known for his research on the fossil history of the southern beech, Nothofagus, and the southern conifers. His research on the fossil history of Nothofagus has been critical in refining our understanding of its evolution and has led to a major revision of our understanding of the biogeography of this critical southern genus.