Biography of Elizabeth Truswell

Darwin as a Geologist – Biographical Reflections


Dr Elizabeth Truswell FAA
Visiting Fellow

Department of Earth and Marine Sciences (Research School of Earth Sciences) ANU

ELIZABETH TRUSWELL was born in Kalgoorlie, WA. She has spent much of her working life as a geoscientist, holding an Honours degree from the University of Western Australia and a PhD from Cambridge University. After post-doctoral study in the USA, she worked as a palaeontologist and environmental geoscientist with the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (now Geoscience Australia) holding the position of a Chief Research Scientist from 1992-1996.

She has published more than 80 papers dealing with geological timescales, flowering plant origins, the reconstruction of past vegetation and environments in Australia and Antarctica, and topics concerned with evolution of aspects of the Australian flora. Her research was acknowledged with her election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1985.

In 1997, in response to a long held interest in drawing and painting, she enrolled in Visual Arts at the Australian National University, graduating with Honours in painting in 2000. Her interests in the field of art history include the art of the early voyages of discovery to Antarctica, and the interrelationships between art and science.


Her artworks are held in a number of collections in both Europe and Australia, including ANU and Geoscience Australia in Canberra. Her first solo exhibition “Drawing on the Past” was held at the ANCA Gallery in Canberra in 2005.

She has an ongoing interest in the relationship between art and science. In 2005 she was a plenary speaker at the annual conference (Conasta) of the Australian Science Teachers Association; in June 2006 she was invited to present a paper at the Canberra conference “From Stars to Brains” dealing with the development of art as part of the evolution of human consciousness.

Administrative positions in science have included membership of the Management Board, Antarctic Co-operative Research Centre (1991 – 1997); Member, Antarctic Science Advisory Committee (1992 – 1998); Member and Deputy Chair, Management Board, CRC for Australia's Coastal Zone (1999 – 2006); Member, Australian National Commission for UNESCO (1992 – 1998); Council Member, National Youth Science Forum, 2007 – present.

Elizabeth Truswell currently works as a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Earth and Marine Sciences at ANU, dividing her time between ongoing scientific research and making art.

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