Oxford Earth Sciences are delighted to welcome Professor Bob Hilton to the department! Bob is a geochemist who studies the exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and rocks, and how these carbon transfers respond to and drive climate change. Bob joins us from Durham University, where he spent 12 years as a Lecturer, Reader and Professor in Geography. Prior to Durham, Bob held a postdoctoral research position at L’Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris and received a PhD and undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences from Cambridge University.
His research quantifies how erosion and weathering processes act as CO2 sinks, and CO2 sources, and transfer CO2 between the atmosphere, hydrosphere and oceans, and long-term, geological storage in sedimentary deposits. To do this, he has developed several geochemical approaches, which include trace element proxies of weathering and their isotopes (e.g. rhenium), while also tracking carbon as CO2, dissolved and particulate organic carbon, and their radiocarbon and stable C isotope composition. Bob mostly works on modern catchments to constrain fluxes and their controls, including work on small catchments in the European Alps, New Zealand (East Cape and Southern Alps), Taiwan, Sichuan, Andes, alongside over a decade of work in the Mackenzie River basin.
Bob has led several research projects funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the European Research Council (ERC). Two projects, NERC-funded research on rhenium and rhenium isotopes as a tracer of weathering and ERC-funded research on rock organic carbon oxidation, will continue at Oxford. In June 2022, Bob will lead an ERC Consolidator Grant, RIV-ESCAPE, which will constrain how greenhouse gas release from rivers will be modified by ongoing and future climate change.
Bob has previously been awarded the 2019 Leverhulme Prize, a Finalist in Chemistry of the 2018 Blavatnik Awards, the 2016 Chinese Academy Sciences International Partnership Award for Young Scientists, and the 2014 Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the European Geosciences Union.
Bob will teach across the year groups in Earth Sciences on themes of sedimentary processes, weathering and erosion, and biogeochemical cycles (e.g., carbon cycle) and is a tutorial fellow at St Peter’s College.