In 1926 he was awarded a Fellowship of the University of Wales to spend two years at Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge, to continue research on carboniferous fossils. While at St John's College, Cambridge, he gained the Bonney Award for field geology, and degree of PhD (Cantab) in 1928 on Avonian spirifers.
He returned to Swansea as Research-Demonstrator in Geology (1928-30), resulting in the publication of an important paper on a group of Brachiopods, and mapping a tract of limestone between Porthcawl and St Brides Major with the aid of a grant from the Royal Society. In 1930 he was employed as a geologist in the Geological Survey of Great Britain and worked on mapping the English midlands, though his first task was to advise on the problem of groundwater flooding in Flintshire lead mines.
He gained a DSc degree of the University of Wales in 1932 for his researches on Spirifidae, carboniferous limestone, and other aspects of geology; and the following year returned to Swansea to succeed A. E. Trueman as Professor of Geology and Head of the Department of Geology and Geography (1933-1946). During 1933 he visited and became a corresponding member of the Geological Society of Belgium, he published six papers in scientific journals and continued his researches in Gower.
He again succeeded A. E. Trueman to become Professor of Geology of Glasgow University (1947-74), where he determined the syllabus and content of lectures. He was an excellent lecturer. He participated as tutor at Coleg Harlech Summer School held at Swansea in 1926; he delivered a lecture to Bristol Association on ‘University Training of Geologists’ (1948); he was Woodward Lecturer, Yale University (1956). He spent a sabbatical year (1964-65) as Senior Foreign Fellow at Northwestern University, Illinois. He was Visiting Professor at the Universities of Witwatersrand, Cape Town and Natal (1967); and Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, University of Saskatchewan (1974). He was called on to serve as an examiner at many universities.
He served as chairman of several committees, including the British Association Glasgow Committee, Scottish Council Mineral resources panel, Geological Conservation Council; and as president of the Geological Section of the British Association (Liverpool; 1953), Association of University Teachers (1959-60), Palaeontological Association (1962-64), Geological Society of London (1968-70), and other associations.
The numerous honours he received include: being elected Fellow of the Royal Society (1963), Hon. D-ès-Sc (Rennes; 1956), Honorary LLD (Wales; 1970), ScD (Cantab, 1970); and being presented with the Lyell Medal (Geological Society of London, 1963), Clough Medal (Edinburgh Geological Society, 1973), Kelvin Prize (Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, 1975), Neill Medal (Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1978), and medal of Charles University (Prague).
He served as Associate Editor for the Royal Society, and was author of: Evolution in Outline (1951), British Regional Geology Series - (with B. Smith) North Wales (1961) and (with J. Pringle) South Wales (1937 and revisions), Aspects of the Variscan Fold Belt (in part) (1962), The British Caledonides (in part) (1963); The Geology of Scotland (in part) (1964), University Instruction in Geology (1965), (contribution to) The Upper Palaeozoic Rocks of Wales (1974); and contributions on geology and palaeontology to technical journals.
He married during summer 1932, Sarah Hannah Davies, MA, PhD, a university lecturer; they had no children. He died at 1 Princess Terrace, Glasgow, on 8 June 1980.
Dr Mary Auronwy James, Aberystwyth
Published date: 2012