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Outstanding Master’s student wins Geologists’ Association Prize

12 February 2021

Moorcroft Pool at Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve. Image taken by Archie Bunney as part of his MSc project, see footnote for detail.

Congratulations to Archie Bunney who has been awarded the Geologists' Association Curry MSc Prize 2020.

The Curry MSc Prize is awarded to the best Master’s degree thesis in the UK on a geology-related topic and has a £1000 prize, plus membership to the Geologists’ Association for the following calendar year.

Archie won for his Applied Environmental Geology thesis entitled ‘Geoconservation and geotechnical engineering of geosites within the newly designated Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark, compared to sites within GeoMôn-Anglesey UNESCO Global Geopark’. The Geologists’ Association panel was very impressed with his work, which they regarded as being of PhD standard.

Archie said, “I had to conduct my dissertation independent of any company sponsorship or industrial placement and under varying national and local restrictions, whilst also shielding during this difficult time. I did not expect to be marked as high as I did, nor did I ever expect to win the Curry MSc Prize. I’m honoured to have had five months of hard work recognised in such a way.

The Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark, designated in July 2020, stands apart from its 160 compatriots in its extensive urbanisation; all its geological features having been exposed because of its long industrial history. It is of immense interest to both geologists and non-geologists alike, and I could not recommend it more highly.”

Archie graduated from Geology (BSc) in 2019 with a First Class undergraduate degree and went on to study Applied Environmental Geology (MSc) where he graduated with a Distinction in 2020. He plans to start his career as a graduate geotechnical/geoenvironmental engineer, continuing wherever possible to be involved in geological conservation, outreach and communication.

Cardiff University students have an outstanding record of winning the Curry MSc prize. Archie's recent win marks the fifth time that one of our students has won the Curry Prize since it started in 2009.

The Geologists’ Association (GA) is the home of professional and amateur geology in the UK, acting as a forum for enthusiasts of all ages and representing the interests of geology at local and national levels. It recognises the contributions of Earth scientists through the award of medals, prizes, and grants to students and researchers and through the Curry Fund.

The Curry Fund of the Geologists’ Association was established in 1986 by a gift of Dennis Curry (1912- 2001). Although Curry is best known as joint Managing Director (1946-1968) and Chairman (1968-1984) of the high street electrical goods chain Currys Ltd, he was also a gifted nonprofessional geologist and palaeontologist, with over 130 publications in the field.

Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve (pictured above) is a site of both underground coal mining and surface excavation of glacial sand and gravel for ironmaking, which formed several "sandpits". Moorcroft Pool (pictured above) formed when the largest of these pits subsided due to mine collapses underground. The vegetation is all anthropogenic, planted between 1905-1912 by the Midland Reafforesting Association so that the former industrial site could be repurposed into a convalescence garden for a local smallpox hospital.

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