Outstanding Young Researcher Award 2020
After a few years of working in a factory following high school, Dr Neil Ryan MC KENZIE, Research Division for Earth & Planetary Science and Department of Earth Sciences, returned to college earning an AA degree in Natural Sciences from Cerritos College. He earned his BS in Geology / Palaeobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006, and then an MS in Palaeontology and PhD (2012) in Geology at the University of California, Riverside. He was a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin and then a Flint Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University before joining the University of Hong Kong in 2016.
Dr McKenzie’s research strives to understand the co-evolution of Earth’s surface environment and life. He studies various aspects of the dynamic relationship between tectonics and climate throughout Earth’s history and further explores how changes in these processes influenced biodiversity. He has conducted fieldwork across the globe studying modern tectonically active regions such as the Himalayas, Andes, and various parts of southeast Asia, as well as investigating ancient rocks in India, China, North America, and southern Africa. His work has been published in top journals including Science and Nature Geoscience.
While Dr McKenzie’s research certainly has socioeconomic and environmental implications, his interests are derived from innate curiosity and pure personal enjoyment in investing and trying to understand Earth System evolution. He attributes much of his academic success to being fortunate to have found and interacted with outstanding mentors and collaborators, and surrounding himself with exceptional postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.