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Don was awarded his Geology PhD "Granitic Rocks of Ophiolites" in 1978. He grew up in South Oxfordshire, in a middle-class family where his siblings, and indeed his mother, had experienced higher education. At his grammar school it was fairly normal for pupils to go on to university and with fond memories of picking up rocks on coastal childhood holidays, he decided to study Geology at Birmingham University. He enjoyed studying and university life so much that further study through a PhD felt like a natural progression. A serendipitous coincidence influenced his choice of applying for a PhD at The OU. He had been given, as a 6th ...form Biology prize, a well-known textbook edited (with others) by Ian Gass, who was the Earth Sciences Professor at The OU, and who became Don’s research supervisor. Don’s timing was extremely fortunate. He started his PhD looking at ophiolites at the time when the theory of plate tectonics was starting to revolutionise geology; he describes it as a paradigm shift in geological study. Although a coup d’état in Cyprus in 1974 initially delayed his fieldwork there, several weeks spent in the Troodos Massif were followed by studies in the Oman Mountains, the Sierra Nevada in northern California, and finally the slightly less glamorous, but nonetheless fascinating, Ayrshire coast. He also found time to help at OU summer schools. As with others in this cohort, Don had started a job before submitting his PhD, in his case with the British Geological Survey, so did not attend a formal award ceremony. But he likes to think he has attended one in his position as an Extra in the graduation scene in the performance of "Ballad of Walton Hall", put on by the OU operatic society in 1977. Through a long career at the British Geological Survey where he travelled the world making geological maps, he credited his OU experience with giving him the skills needed to interpret complex rock formations, and to lead and develop geological projects, until his retirement in 2014.
Metadata describing this interview
Title: Dr Don Aldiss Interview
Interviewer: Elizabeth Currie
Abstract: Don Aldiss introduces himself and talks about his childhood and education, as well as his interest in geology and ophiolites. He shares his experiences of fieldwork in Cyprus, Malaga and California, and studying for his PhD with the OU.
Date of interview: 07-04-21
Interview duration: 01:37:55
Recording type: Video interview
Rights statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: Contact the OU Archive prior to any re-use. Contact
Available to public: no