Growing up in a small country town need not dim the ability to be a shining light in any chosen field, as Graham Begg’s career demonstrates.
Dr. Graham Begg, Geologist and youngest son of Cam and Marianne Begg of Murchison is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Gibb Maitland Medal.
Many people would have heard of Gibb River and Maitland Range in the Kimberley but may not be aware that they were named after Andrew Gibb Maitland, an eminent Geologist. The Gibb Maitland Medal commemorates the enormous contribution made by Maitland to the study of Western Australia geology and is awarded by the WA Branch of the Geological Society of Australia for significant geoscience contributions in Western Australia.
The award recognises Graham’s scientific work in four dimensional mapping of the structure of the earth’s subcontinent, identifying major ore systems leading to efficient locating of mineral deposits. This system has already contributed to significant mineral discoveries.
Following his early education at Murchison Primary School and Shepparton High School, Graham went on to Melbourne University to complete a degree in Geology in 1984. His education and learning continued while employed by Western Mining Corporation and then with BHP Billiton Ltd, in Victoria, Western Australia and overseas in a variety of mine and exploration roles mostly focused on gold, copper, nickel, and diamonds. His work in Fiji led to a four year study break completing his Ph.D. on epithermal gold systems at Monash University in 1996. He then worked on an Asia-Pacific Project and with others developed what is now called a mineral systems approach, mapping the sub-continent. This complex work of creating a global map is nearing completion.
In his acceptance speech, Graham acknowledged the positive support and encouragement of his parents, and the many skills gained living on a dairy farm such as teamwork, resilience, problem solving and appreciation of nature. Graham mentioned that the Goulburn Valley environment lit the flame that fuelled his desire to study Geology. Family picnics to Waranga Basin examining the rock sediment and quartz veins containing crystals along the shore line, and exploring the Balaclava Mine in the Whroo Forest fired his imagination. As a 6 year old, Graham’s interest in science was stimulated by the arrival of the Murchison Meteorite scattering fragments over the family farm. With other locals he hunted for fragments later donating the samples to Universities. As the understanding that this ancient rock contained organic compounds and the body of knowledge about the significance of this rare carbonaceous chondrite grew, so did Graham’s interest in science and the wider Universe.
When presenting the Medal, Dr. Jon Hronsky had this to say: “Dr. Begg is recognized internationally for his work through his publications in leading journals and as an invited speaker at many prestigious national and international conferences. He has been effective at promoting his work to industry and also has a strong and admirable commitment to the mentoring of students and young researchers. In summary, Dr. Graham Begg is a deserving recipient of the 2015 Gibb Maitland Medal, and the Geological Society is pleased to award him with it.”
Graham is now based in Perth and has formed his own consulting company, Minerals Targeting International.
And so, from a small boy playing on the family farm in Murchison, Dr. Graham Begg is now a man making a difference, a shining star in his field and a significant player on the world stage.
Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.