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Robert Emo receives inaugural WH Bryan PhD Scholarship in Queensland Earth Sciences

Robert Emo WH Bryan PhD in Queensland Earth Sciences Presentation

Back: Geoff McMahon, Annie Simes, Dr Scott Bryan, Prof. Margaret Sheil AO, Jill Simes, Sally Smith and Kay Bryan. Front: Robert Emo and Bob Bryan AM  

The Bryan Foundation is delighted to announce Irish PhD student Robert Emo is the inaugural recipient of the WH (Walter Heywood) Bryan PhD Scholarship in Queensland Earth Sciences who will carry out his doctorate at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

A special presentation was held at Old Government House within the grounds of QUT’s Gardens Point campus on Tuesday 20 November, to celebrate and welcome Robert on his exciting new endeavour.

The WH Bryan PhD Scholarship in Queensland Earth Sciences was established by The Bryan Foundation to advance the understanding of the state’s earth sciences by addressing a globally significant problem that leads to high impact outcomes.

Robert, who previously completed his undergraduate studies at Trinity College Dublin and then a Master of Science at the University of British Columbia, will now continue his postgraduate research at QUT where his field of study will investigate rare, deeply sourced rocks brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions.

The WH Bryan PhD Scholarship was open to candidates who would be hosted at one of Queensland’s three universities undertaking undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research programs in earth sciences, being James Cook University, University of Queensland and QUT.

Robert’s selection followed a rigorous evaluation process overseen by an independent panel of eminent earth scientists who have a wealth of experience in studying and researching the geology of Queensland built up over many years.

His scholarship grant was based on the quality of Robert’s application and the potential and strength of his elected project.

“My research aims to link the evolution of Queensland’s lower crust to shallower processes expressed at the surface, such as the formation of sedimentary basins including Queensland’s coal beds,” Robert said.

“Through the generous funding of The Bryan Foundation, I am very excited to be able to conduct cutting-edge research utilising QUT’s state-of-the-art facilities.”

Presenting Robert with his scholarship was WH Bryan’s son, Bob Bryan AM — also a prominent geologist — who was joined by members of The Bryan Foundation’s directors and family, together with QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty academics, the judging panel and QUT Vice-Chancellor and President, Margaret Sheil AO.

Grandson of WH Bryan and QUT geologist, Associate Professor Scott Bryan said his grandfather made many impactful and wide-ranging contributions to his research field, tertiary education and societal wellbeing.

“Pop taught and researched in mineralogy, petrology, field geology and a particularly engaging topic he taught and posed to his students was ‘major problems in geology’."

Scott went on to say this subject area was essentially the forerunner to plate tectonics…a theory we now take for granted but in his time, it was still two to three decades away from being realised. 

“Robert’s successful project of study has many overlaps with Pop’s areas of interest.”    

The Bryan foundation congratulates Robert and is looking forward to seeing the successes of his research over the coming three years as the Foundation’s inaugural WH Bryan Scholar.

To view images from the official presentation, please click here


WH Bryan Scholarship Announces Independent Selection Panel

An independent selection panel of eminent Earth Scientists has been established to review and recommend the award of the scholarship.


The WH Bryan Scholarship Selection Panel

Adjunct Professor David Gust

Recently retired, Professor David Gust joined QUT in 1990 and held numerous leadership and senior management positions in the university. This included being the foundation Head of the School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences in the newly formed Science and Engineering Faculty (SEF), SEF Assistant Dean (Executive), SEF Assistant Dean (Research), Deputy Director Institute of Future Environments and Science Academic Director.

In these roles, Professor Gust developed a strong understanding of Australian higher education policy and procedures with respect to teaching and research. Professor Gust has degrees from Lawrence University (BA with Honours), Rice University (MA) and the Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University (PhD).

He has worked at the University of New Hampshire and the Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA – Johnson Space Center.

Trained in the fields of geochemistry and igneous petrology, Professor Gust has undertaken research that ranges from experimental studies on the origins of rocks and minerals to field studies on volcanoes in Japan and Africa and granites in Australia and USA. He has over 60 peer-reviewed publications and conference abstracts, and supervised more than 60 Honours, Masters and PhD students. He was a foundation member of the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (ACEDD) and a past President of the Geological Society of Australia (Qld Division).

Adjunct Professor Rod Holcombe

Rod is an Adjunct Professor of Structural Geology at UQ, and a founding member of HCOV Global, a consortium of consultants to the minerals exploration industry. His undergraduate training was at The University of Sydney, where he graduated with First Class Honours.

Following several years as an exploration geologist, he completed a PhD at Stanford University in 1973. Rod joined The University of Queensland as a Lecturer in structural geology in 1974 after a brief stint at Leiden University in The Netherlands.

His academic research over the following 30 years included structural analyses in both Precambrian metamorphic terranes and Phanerozoic continental margin terranes in numerous countries but with a focus on Queensland.

Following retirement from active academia in 2005, Rod began a structural geology consultancy to the minerals industry, and over the subsequent 12 years worked on the structural context of 34 mining and exploration projects in 17 different countries. Rod is the recipient of The Dorothy Hill Medal (for services to Queensland geology), and the Bruce Hobbs Medal (for services to Structural Geology). His CV includes 1 book, 3 book chapters, 66 refereed journal articles, 4 published maps, and over 100 non-refereed articles and reports.

Mr Peter Ellis

Peter Ellis is an Honours Graduate in Applied Science (Geology) and Arts (Economics) from the University of Queensland. In the late 1950s he was one of Professor W H Bryan’s students.

He served with the Queensland Government as Principal Geologist, Geological Survey of Queensland; Director of Environmental Control, Coordinator-General’s Department; Director of Intergovernmental Relations, Premier’s Department; Director-General, Department of Industry Development; Director-General, Department of Manufacturing and Commerce; Executive Chairman, Queensland Coal Board; and finally Director-General, Department of the Premier and Cabinet and Coordinator-General of Queensland.

In the private sector he directed a business development consultancy and chaired an international bulk carrier shipping company.


Basaltic hyaloclastite from Green Hill, central Queensland.

Basaltic hyaloclastite from Green Hill, central Queensland.

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