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Durham University

Department of Geography

News Archive

Dr Robert Hilton honoured at Blavatnik Awards ceremony for being one of the UK's leading young scientists

(10 March 2018)

Dr Robert Hilton

The honour was announced by The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences.

Insights into Earth's carbon cycle

It was made for Dr Hilton's work in research which has provided new insights into Earth's long-term carbon cycle and the natural processes that transfer carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and rocks.

His research has uncovered how erosion of land in the form of earthquakes and resulting landslides, weathering of organic carbon in rocks, and the export of carbon by rivers can have an impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

He was presented with US$30,000 (£21,750) and honoured at a gala dinner and ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Erosion and exposure of carbon

Dr Hilton said: "I am inspired by the colossal tectonic forces which build steep mountains, and the processes of erosion and weathering which can tear them back down again. Rivers thus modify the shape of the landscape, but they also act to move elements such as carbon and oxygen between the atmosphere and rocks.

"Ever since learning about these linkages during my Natural Sciences degree, I have been motivated to delve deeper and measure these geochemical fluxes. My current research priority is to better understand how erosion and exposure of carbon in soils and rocks might dampen, or amplify, anthropogenic CO2 emissions over the coming century.

"It is an honour to have been named as a Finalist in these prestigious awards because of this work".

The Blavatnik Awards

Inspired by the Nobel Prize, the Blavatnik Awards is the largest unrestricted prize available to young scientist under the age of 42 in the UK.

The awards seek to recognise and support young scientists at a critical juncture in their career.