The Mike Coward Prize is awarded for the best student talk (undergraduate or postgraduate) presented at the TSG Annual Meeting, showcasing the student’s own original research. The student must also be the first author and presenting largely their own original research. The winner is decided by a panel of invited judges. The prize is named in memory of Mike Coward. 

Mike Coward (1945-2003)

Considered “one of the late 20th century’s most influential structural geologists”, Mike Coward was at various times H. H. Read Professor of Geology at Imperial College, Council Member of the Geological Society of London, and Chair of the UK Tectonic Studies Group.  Mike’s career was an eclectic mix of pure and applied research in structural geology that straddled continents and geological time. Normal chronological narratives can hardly do justice to a man who could step from theme to theme at times, seemingly to colleagues, almost on a daily basis. Mike’s early years were spent at Imperial College learning from the likes of John Ramsay and Janet Watson, from whom he acquired his love of structural geology. His PhD studies focused on the geology of the Outer Hebrides, in particular, South Uist. It was here that his love of all things Scottish was established. Following his PhD, Mike then moved onto studying many remote and far flung regions of the world, including the high Andes, the Australian outback and Africa.

Following in the footsteps of John Ramsay, Mike became a lecturer at Leeds in 1975, where he helped to build a formidable research group (working on the Moine, NW Scotland) and undergraduate course. Students either loved or hated his ‘work hard–play hard’ philosophy and the occasionally outrageous field classes, complete with Hebridean singing. Mike also played a leading role in the steering group of the NERC-sponsored BIRPS seismic programme in the early 1980s. Using knowledge gained from studying ancient orogenic belts, Mike was also one of the pioneering workers in the NW Himalayas, following construction of the Karakoram Highway.

Mike returned to Imperial in 1984 to take up the prestigious position of H. H. Read Chair of Geology. It was at this time in his career that Mike’s studies moved to the offshore: initially looking at the continuation of the Moine into the West Orkney basin, and then to the wider waters of the UK (culminating in major contributions to the widely referenced Millennium Atlas, 2003). During the latter part of his career, Mike worked in collaboration with industry (petroleum and mining), and was a valued consultant by all.

Mike married a fellow geologist, Alison Ries, in 1987, a good friend since his postgraduate days. Their daughter Sarah was born in 1989, and Charlie was adopted from Paraguay five years later. Mike sadly passed away in 2003, but leaves behind a highly influential legacy (including a huge collection of published articles, edited books, notebooks, maps, manuscripts and independent reports). One of Mike’s most significant achievements was his capacity to pass on his enthusiasm and passion for geology to all he met.

Words adapted from “Deformation of the Continental Crust: The Legacy of Mike Coward”

Previous Winners

2024 – Joe Connolly (University of Plymouth)

2022 – Ialla-Khadija Alaoui (Université d’Orléans, France): “Element mobility in low-grade shear zones and strain accommodation: insights from geochemistry and microstructures of granitoids of central Pyrenees (Axial zone)”.

2021 – Lauren Kedar (University of Aberdeen): Disorder carbon as a potential strain indicator: a case study in the Haut Giffre, French Alps.

Runner-up: Jorien van der Wal (RWTH-Aachen): Active tectonics in slowly deforming, intraplate southern Mongolia.

2020 – Bailey Lathrop (UCL): The temporal evolution of syn-sedimentary normal faults and the possible role of tip retreat.

Runner-up: Rebecca Macaskill-Robertson (University of Aberdeen): Relating slip morphology and kinematics of a liquefaction event to flow evolution.

2019 – Kit Hardman (Durham Univeristy): Fault Void Fills: Pervasive and persistent fluid flow pathways in fractured crystalline and carbonate reservoirs.

Runner-up: Isabel Edmundson (University of Bergen) Elucidating key controls on top seal, lateral seal and fault seal capacity in hydrocarbon traps: insights from the Snøhvit field in the Hammerfest Basin, SW Barents Sea.

2018 – Amy Hughes (University of Liverpool)

2017 – John Bedford

2016 –  Lucia Perez-Diaz

2015 – Rachael Bullock (Durham University)

2014 – Owen Weller (University of Oxford)

2013 – unknown

2012 – Michael Kelly (Keele University)

2011 – Casey Nixon (University of Southampton)

2010 – Craig Magee (University of Birmingham)

2009 – Koen Van Noten (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

2008 – Steven Smith (Durham University)

2007 – unknown

2006 – John M. Cottle