Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Vale Professor Ian Metcalfe MRSN

Professor Ian MetcalfeThe Society was deeply saddened to learn of the peaceful passing of Professor Ian Metcalfe MRSN, in Sydney, on 21 December 2023.

Ian was a devoted husband to Amarjit Kaur, an incredible father to Noreen and David, and a beloved grandfather to John and James. He was a globally recognised and accomplished professor, researcher, lecturer, and author in Earth Sciences. Ian will be dearly missed, not only for his outstanding contributions to academia but also for his exemplary role as a husband and father.

Ian was born in Yorkshire and began his association with UNE (University of New England) in 1992 after completing his PhD at the University of Leeds. Prior to that, he had worked at the University of Malaya, the University of Nottingham, and the National University of Malaysia. Over the years, his career at UNE included various roles, from Senior Lecturer to Research Fellow, and ultimately, he held the position of Adjunct Professor since 2005.

Professor Ian Metcalfe's impact on the academic world is substantial. He currently holds the position of #7 on Google Scholar for total citations among academics associated with UNE, marking the highest position in the physical sciences at the University. His h-index, a measure of research impact, stands at 49, with his publications garnering over 15,000 citations. Despite not holding a continuous position, Professor Metcalfe authored over 300 peer-reviewed papers and served as an Editor for several esteemed journals in Earth Sciences. His extensive body of work significantly enhanced UNE's international research profile.

Professor Metcalfe's most influential contributions were in the fields of regional and global tectonics, palaeogeography, palaeontology (particularly microfossils and mass extinctions), and geologic timescale calibration studies. His work on the continental lithospheric terranes and suture zones of East and Southeast Asia is internationally renowned, with his Three-Tethys model for the evolution of Asia has gained widespread acceptance. His work has provided a foundational framework for global reconstruction and deep earth resources research for several decades.

Conodont biostratigraphy was another area where Professor Metcalfe made a particularly positive impact. His pioneering work on the Lower Carboniferous of northern England has become part of global zonation schemes. His contributions to conodont biostratigraphy, biogeography, and stratigraphy, especially concerning the Permian-Triassic boundary, have been invaluable to the field.

Beyond geology, Professor Metcalfe extended his intellectual pursuits into the social sciences. He served as a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow and worked on the project "Women workers in industrializing Asia." He also held positions as Deputy Director of the Asia Centre at UNE and Program Director for the UNE Research Initiative "Environmental and Social Impacts of Resource Development in Asia." He had been an active member of the New England Branch of the Royal Society of NSW in the 90s.

Ian Metcalfe's impact on academia, his dedication to his family, and his diverse intellectual interests have left an indelible mark on those who knew him. He will be remembered with deep respect and admiration by colleagues, friends, and students alike.

Chris Fellows MRSN, Howard Brasted, and Trevor Brown MRSN

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