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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  June 2017  /  Celebrating Steve Brooks

Celebrating Steve Brooks

Contributions to science, students and music

Celebrating Steve Brooks

Thursday 1st June saw a meeting to celebrate the career of Steve Brooks, of the Natural History Museum and Honorary Reader at the UCL Geography ECRC.

Steve has worked with many ECRC staff on research projects over the past two decades and has co-supervised students working on freshwater insects, especially the non-biting chironomids, from their palaeoecology to their modern distributions and monitoring, and the extraction of isotopes from their remains.

The meeting, on Developments in Quaternary Entomology and Environmental Reconstruction, included a range of talks, some focussing on the use of chironomids for quantitative temperature reconstruction and others examining past biodiversity, including ecosystem resilience and palaeo food webs.

Speakers came from as far as Canada, with some from Europe, including Professor Oliver Heiri, on Skype from Bern.

Many wove in warm anecdotes about Steve including his love of music, his very competitive nature and his ability on fieldwork to be regularly hospitalised. They also highlighted his lasting impact on improvements in taxonomy, his development of data sets and transfer functions, and his knowledge of midge ecology.

Also apparent were his generous sharing of academic ideas and data, his support for colleagues and his role in training dozens of young scientists.

The session ended with Steve’s own ‘reflections of a dead-header’. Although he was not wearing his infamous ‘chironomids eat diatoms’ t-shirt, he provided a very amusing account of his personal journey into and through science.

Most of his colleagues know that Steve put a promising musical career on hold to become a proper scientist, but he finally put the Dexys Midnight Runners myth to bed (yes he did refuse to join Kevin Rowland), proving to the doubters, with support from an old flyer, that his band the Young Bucks were supported by The Cure. Steve will be playing a lot of music in retirement.

We wish Steve and his wife Ann all the best for his retirement! He nevertheless has plans to continue working with Carl Sayer on river restoration and with citizen scientists on the River Fly project.

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Steve Brooks


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