Meet Julian Thomson

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Job: 

Geoscience education and communication.

Job description: 

My job is to tell the public about the fascinating research that scientists are doing at GNS. This includes making short documentary style videos for the GNS YouTube channel and running geology workshops, presentations and field trips for teachers and schools. I write content for the GNS website and operate social media for GNS Science. I am part of the GNS team that communicates to the public following hazardous natural events like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. I have appeared as a presenter on several TV documentaries shown internationally, about the geology of New Zealand.

Work background: 

I have been with GNS Science for about 10 years. Before that I was a high school teacher for about 15 years. My interests in geology, education and the outdoors (especially mountaineering) is what got me the job!

Favourite part of job: 

I really like the variety of things that I get to do, the things that I learn about and the people I meet. I travel a lot all around New Zealand, often to very remote places, and sometimes overseas (I have been to Indonesia twice this year).

Least favourite part of job: 

Sometimes I can’t keep up with all the exciting projects that I am involved in, but really I pretty much enjoy every single day at work.

What I am working on now: 

I am involved with the filming of a documentary about New Zealand volcanoes (this will be my fourth TV doco). I am also creating several YouTube videos; one is about Auckland’s volcanoes, another is on groundwater, and the next is about the Alpine Fault. My biggest excitement is developing a website that shows the public (that means you!) where you can go in New Zealand to look at geology and learn about rocks, fossils and landforms. Have a look at www.geotrips.org.nz

A quick story about a job well done: 

After the Kaikoura earthquake, I visited the area with a GNS team and made videos of some of the faults and the uplifted coastline. These clips were shown worldwide by international news agencies.

A (humorous) story about a job that went badly and what you learned: 

I was once using a drone to film some rock pinnacles and it somehow lost control and smashed straight into a cliff. I caught the collision on camera, which I thought was cool, but my boss wasn’t quite so pleased…I learned to be more careful with the next drone!

Qualifications: 

Honours degree in Geology, alpine instructor’s award, plus teaching qualification.

Interests outside work: 

Climbing, travelling, playing the piano, reading things that help me to learn about the world and how to become a better person.


Julian Thomson works for GNS Science in Geoscience education and communication. Image: GNS Science.