Ian has dedicated most of his career to understanding global tectonic processes and to mapping out the geography of ancient times on a dynamic Earth. His 35 years of field experience have been devoted to work in the British Caledonides, the Canadian Shield, the Andes, and Antarctica. NSF-sponsored fieldwork in Antarctica between 1995 and 1998 led Ian to propose that ancestral North America, known to geologists as Laurentia, was connected to South America, Africa, and Antarctica one billion years ago by a large promontory, which he named the "Texas Plateau" (see Powerpoint animations "Texas Through Time" and "From Texas To Antarctica" and "Making of Texas" poster). The results of this work were published in the January 1995 issue of Scientific American. Recently, working with colleagues from the U.K. and Australia, Ian has turned his attention to unraveling the complicated tectonic history of Scotland, his homeland. Ian was president of the International Division of Geological Society of America from 1996 to 1997, has served as delegate to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research of International Union of Geological Sciences since 1987, and has served as the International Secretary of the American Geophysical Union since 1996.

Areas of Expertise

Tectonics, geodynamics, geography of ancient times, plate reconstructions, structural geology


Doctor of Science (Honoris Causae) - University of Edinburgh (2003)

Best Paper Award - Permian Basin Section of Society for Sedimentary Geology (1998 - 1999)

Honorary Research Chair in Geology - University of St. Andrews (1997)

Cooperative Society Best Research Paper Award - University of Texas at Austin (1997 - 1998)

Bownocker Medal - Ohio State University (1997)

Fellow - University of Edinburgh (1996)

Corresponding Fellow - Edinburgh Geological Society (elected) (1996)

Murchison Medal - Geological Society of London (1992)

Corresponding Member - Associacion Geologica Argentinia (elected) (1980)

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship - Swiss Federal Institute, Zurich, Switzerland (1976 - 1977)

Consultant , Paleotectonics to Dynamic Earth, Texas Memorial Museum, Museum of Scotland, Scottish Heritage (2005)

Guest Lecturer, Science Place, Dallas, Texas (2005)

Consulting Editor, Earth Sciences, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2003 - 2008)

Associate Editor, Editorial Board, Episodes, Journal of the International Union of Geological Sciences (2002)

Chairman, Scientific Board, International Geoscience Project (IGCP), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and International Union of Geosciences (2002 - 2004)

Co-Chair, Technical Program, Joint Geological Society of America-Geological Society of London Meeting on "Earth System Processes", Edinburgh, Scotland (with Ian Fairchild) (2001)

Member, Canadian Lithoprobe Project, (2001)

Leader, West Antarctic GPS Network, Universities of Texas, Hawaii and Memphis (2000)

Co-Convener, Geological Society of America Penrose Conference on "The Iapetus Ocean", Edinburgh, Scotland (with A.L. Harris, R. Astini, and D.J. Fettes) (2000)

Lecturer / Talk, Outreach Program Lectures, Talks at Local Schools (Eanes and North Oaks Elementaries), UTIG Outreach Program Lectures (2000 - 2001)

Member, US National Committee for Geological Sciences, National Academies (1999)

Member, US National Committee for Geological Sciences, National Academies (1999)

Member, Scientific Board, International Geoscience Project (IGCP), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and International Union of Geosciences (1999 - 2000)

Co-Convener, Symposium on Antarctic Neotectonics, European Union of Geosciences, Strasbourg, France (1999)

Leader, Study of past super continents, with special responsibility for studies in Europe, The Americas, Southern Africa, and Antarctica, Texas Node of Australian Research Council Tectonics Special Research Centre (1997)

Lecturer, Swiney Lecturer, University of Edinburgh (1997)

Bownocker Lecturer, The Ohio State University (1997)

Convener, Symposium on the Iapetus Ocean Basin, Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah (1997)

Principal Investigator, Scotia Arc Geodynamics Project, US-UK-Germany-Chile-Argentina (1996)

Convener, Symposium on Origin and Evolution of Ouachita Embayment, South-Central GSA Meeting, Austin, Texas (1996)

Gledden Senior Fellow, University of Australia (1995)

Goldschmidt Lecturer, Geological Survey, Geological Survey of Norway (1995)

Member, Editorial Board, Geology Magazine (1994 - 2000)

Member, Editorial Board, Royal Society of Edinburgh (1994 - 2000)

Member, Editorial Board, Gondwana Research (1994 - 2000)

Member, Editorial Board, Geology Magazine (1994 - 2000)

US Leader, South Pacific Rim International Tectonics Project, US-UK-New Zealand (1993 - 1996)

Erskine Senior Fellow, University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1993)

Co-Convener, Geological Society of America Penrose Conference on "Late Precambrian Plate Tectonics and the Dawn of the Phanerozoic" , Death Valley, California (with A. Knoll and E. Moores) (1992)

Convener, Workshop on Antarctic International Lithosphere Project, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. (1989)

Convener, Symposium on Antarctic Geology, 28th International Geological Congress, Washington, D.C. (1989)

Field Trip Leader, International Union of Geological Sciences, Field Trip, T180 Tectonics of the Scotia Arc, International Geological Congress, Washington, D.C. (1989)

Convener, Poster Session on Antarctic Geology, 28th International Geological Congress, Washington, D.C. (1989)

Member, Polar Research, National Research Council and U.S. National Committee on Antarctic Research (1988 - 1992)

Chairman, International Ocean Drilling Project, Tectonics Panel (US-UK-France-Germany-Japan-Australia-Canada-European Science Foundation) (1988 - 1990)

Member of Board, Polar Research Board , National Research Council and U.S. National Committee on Antarctic Research (1988 - 1992)

Chairman, Tectonics Panel, Ocean Drilling Team (1988 - 1990)

Member, ex-officio, Polar Research Board, National Research Council, as Delegate to Scientific Committee on Antarctic Science of International Council of Scientific Unions (1987 - 2000)

Polar Research Board, National Research Council , Ex-Officio as Delegate to Scientific Committee on Antarctic Science of International Council of Scientific Unions (1987 - 2000)

Convener, Workshop on Antarctic Lithosphere, Supported by Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation (1987 - 1988)

Executive Secretary and Corresponding Secretary for the United States, International Geodynamics Project, Scotia Arc Study Group of Working Group No. 2 (1987 - 1988)

Member, Coordinating Committees 3 and 7 of International Commission on the Lithosphere, International Council of Scientific Unions (1987)

Convener, Group of Specialists on the Structure and Evolution of the Antarctic Lithosphere, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, International Council of 10 Scientific Unions (1986 - 1998)

US Leader, Tectonics of West Antarctica , US-UK (1986 - 1992)

Visiting Senior Scientist, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge England (1986)

Convener, Group of Specialists on the Structure and Evolution of the Antarctic Lithosphere, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, International Council of 10 Scientific Unions (1986 - 1998)

Member, Tectonics Panel, Ocean Drilling Team (1986 - 1987)

Member, Advisory Committee, Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation (1984 - 1988)

Co-Chief Scientist (w/ P.F. Barker of the UK), Leg 36 of Deep Sea Drilling Project, Scotia Sea and South Atlantic Ocean, Ushuaia, Argentina to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (12 scientist from 6 nations) (1984)

Convener, International Council of Scientific Unions, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, Group of Specialists on Structure and Evolution of the Antarctic Lithosphere (1984 - 1994)

Advisory Committee, Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation (1984 - 1988)

Member, Ad Hoc Committee on Antarctic Geoscience, Polar Research Board, National Research Council (1983 - 1986)

Member, Ad Hoc Committee on Antarctic Geoscience, Polar Research Board, National Research Council (1983 - 1986)

Advisory Panel, Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation (1983 - 1986)

Co-convener, Geological Society of America Penrose Conference on "The Antarctic Plate: A Global Perspective" , Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (with D.H. Elliot) (1982)

Visiting Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, California (1979 - 1980)

Lecturer, Swiney Lecturer, University of Edinburgh (1978)

Member, Steering Committee, SCAR-IUGS-IGC Symposium on Antarctic Geology and Geophysics, Madison Wisconsin (1977)

Visiting Professor, Geologisches Institut , Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (Swiss Federal Institute), Zurich, Switzerland (1976 - 1977)

Field Trip Leader, Geology of the Baraboo District, Wisconsin (with R.H. Dott Jr.), Geological Society of America Meeting, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1970)

to be entered, Deep Sea Drilling Project Advisory Panel on the Antarctic Ocean, (1970)

Member, Panel on Geology and Solid Earth Geophysics, Committee on Polar Research,, National Academy of Sciences (1969 - 1971)

Leader, Scotia Arc Tectonics Project, South America and Antarctica (US-Chile-Argentina-UK) (1968 - 1990)

Member, Advisory Panel, Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation

Vice President, Research's Committee on Research Excellence,

Fellow and International Secretary, Geological Society of America

Member, American Geophysical Union

Fellow , Geological Association of Chile

Elected Corresponding Fellow, Geological Society of Argentina

Elected Corresponding Fellow, Geological Society of Edinburgh

"Numerous lectures and talks at universities, schools, societies, civic clubs etc., nationally and overseas",