BA(Hons) and PhD from the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, UK. My PhD project on the mineral sapphirine made much use of X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy and electron microprobe analysis, experimental techniques which I still use today, as well as enduring fascinations with (i) minerals and mineral assemblages that form at extremely high pressures and/or temperatures and (ii) crystal structures that are assembled out of layer-, rod- or block-like modules that can fit together in more than one way (modular structures), producing a range of different well-ordered arrangements, disordered arrangements, and those in between, depending on pressure, temperature, chemical composition and crystal growth conditions. Afterwards, I spent a couple of years working in the very different world of precipitation and dissolution from saline brines at relatively low pressures and temperatures, before moving to the Chemistry Department at Leicester University (UK), where I returned to the study of crystal structure transformations under the extreme pressures that can be obtained in a diamond anvil cell (as well as designing a prototype high-temperature diaond anvil cell). In order to get information out of tiny samples contained in their diamond-and-metal containers, I became a heavy user of a synchrotron X-ray beamline at the former Daresbury Laboratory in northwest England.
In 1994, I moved to Australia, to take up a Research Fellowship the Research School of Chemistry at the Australian National University, Canberra, studying short-range ordering in disordered crystals using diffuse X-ray scattering and computer simulation. Between then and 2016, I held a range of other positions around the ANU campus: writing image-processing software in the Forestry Dept; a second Research Fellowship in the Research School of Physics & Engineering, studying the self-organised microfossil-like nanocomposite materials called 'biomorphs'; managing a suite of analytical labs and lecturing in mineralogy in the former Geology Dept, and a senior lectureship developing an education program for the Centre for Advanced Microscopy.
I arrived in Brisbane in October 2016 as one of two new joint positions between the Queensland Museum and the University of Queensland,as a senior curator at QM and lecturer in mineralogy at UQ.
I have been an Associate Editor since 1998 for 'Mineralogical Magazine', the UK-based highest-impact specialist journal for mineralogy, and of 'European Journal of Mineralogy' since 2014. In 2013, I was awarded and Honorary Life Fellowship by the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. I am also a member of the Mineralogical Society of America, and am the representative in the Geological Society of Australia of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA). I have also been since 2007 the Australian national representative on the IMA's Commission for New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC), and have served on two specialist subcommittees of the CNMNC. I am the Vice-Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the upcoming International Mineralogical Association quadrennial meeting in Melbourne, in August 2018.