Dr Barry Fordham

The Australian National University
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Full description

Barry is a micropaleontologist with specialties in foraminifera, conodonts, phylogeny, databases, biostratigraphy, and regional geology. He is a School Visitor and has recently retired, very keen to get back to research after a later career in management.

His BSc at the University of Queensland gave him a very solid grounding across geology. His PhD there, however, ended up being a fresh look at how to deal with the taxonomy and biostratigraphy of fossils given Darwinian evolution - yes, a little slow to respond to Charles’ theory! His subject was Cenozoic planktic forams, using Miocene–Pleistocene oozes from two Deep Sea Drilling Project Sites (Lord Howe Rise; east equatorial Pacific). Barry concluded that fossils could indeed be dealt with as evolutionary entities, with a host of flow-on advantages for applications in paleontology and other fields, but his solutions, presented in the thesis and later a monograph or two, have proved problematic for his peers. However, this insight still drives much of his research passions.

Post-PhD, Barry statistically analysed global Permian paleobiogeography for an ARC Research Fellowship, then joined a geological consultancy conducting project development, then tutored in Earth Sciences and paleontology at Macquarie University, finally returning to Brisbane for a 17-year stint with the Geological Survey of Queensland (GSQ). There he joined regional mapping programs, of especially the Paleozoic Hodgkinson and Yarrol Provinces, focussed on stratigraphic, structural, and tectonic problems. To provide accurate dating control, he set up a long-running conodont processing laboratory uniquely focussed on recovery from sparsely conodontiferous rocks.

In the later part of his stint with the GSQ Barry gravitated towards management, driven to improve the Survey’s digital information capability, but achieved only mixed success. This ultimately led to a later career in management per se, with stints in: community telecommunications networks at the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney; national futures physical-economy modelling at CSIRO, Canberra; project geology and project facilitation at Geo Discovery in Brisbane and FrOGTech in Canberra, and finally Centre Manager of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at ANU, Canberra. During this period Barry’s interests grew in big-picture sustainability, especially influenced by a wonderful interdisciplinary team he “managed” at CSIRO.

Contact Information

Postal Address:
Research School of Earth Sciences Jaeger 8, Building 142, Mills Road Australian National University Acton, ACT 2601 Australia

Street Address:
Ph: +61 (0)421 611 913