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I build numerical models and analyse data for Earth and Environmental geoscience processes, linking with geodynamics, structural geology, seismology, geochemistry, climate modelling, machine learning, and volcanology.

My main focus is mantle convection modelling of geodynamic processes, looking at supercontinent formation and dispersal as well as the dynamics of the lower mantleHowever, I have projects related to early Earth tectonics, the role of the mantle lithosphere in plate tectonics processes, climate modelling, prison education, and how to make industries more environmentally friendly. 

I have 12 first author papers in my short career and a have developed a wide collaboration network that features both applied and theoretical research. I have over a decade of experience in teaching and working with High Performance Computing. 


Academic highlights:

A rather busy slide of my academic projects can be shown as:


I am grateful to work with many great colleagues on research projects:


Full academic CV below.

Academic qualifications                                                                                 

2010 – 2014: Ph.D.Geophysics, University of Toronto

2009 – 2010: M.Sc.Geophysics, University of Toronto

2002 – 2006: M.Geoph (International), Geophysics, University of Leeds, 1stclass honours

Academic Employment                                                                                 

2018 – 2020: Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Individual Fellowship, Durham University

2017 – 2018: Junior Research Fellow, Durham University

2014 – 2016: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, Canada

2006 – 2007: Geophysical Researcher, GeoTeric, Newcastle

2005: Research Assistant, University of Leeds

List of Peer-Reviewed Publications           

ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4813-0504

Google Scholar:https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=0rs5HkUAAAAJ&hl=en

* denotes supervised student


  1. Crameri, F., Shephard, G.E. & Heron, P.J. 2020, The misuse of colour in science communication. Nat Commun 11, 5444 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19160-7
  2. Heron, P. J., B. Murphy, D. Nance, and R. N. Pysklywec, 2020, Pannotia’s mantle signature: the quest for supercontinent identification. In: Murphy, J.B., Strachan, R.A., and Quesada, C., eds. Pannotia To Pangea: Paleozoic orogenic cycles in the circum-North Atlantic region. Geological Society of London Special Publication, https://doi.org/10.1144/SP503-2020-7
  3. Murphy, J.B., Nance, R.D. , Cawood, P.A., Collins, W.J., Dan, W., Doucet, L., Heron, P.J., Li, Z.-X., Mitchell, R.N., Pisarevsky, S., Pufahl, P., Quesada, C., Spencer, C.J., Strachan, R.A., & Wu, L., 2020. Pannotia: In defence of its existence and geodynamic significance. In: Murphy, J.B., Strachan, R.A., and Quesada, C., eds. Pannotia To Pangea: Paleozoic orogenic cycles in the circum-North Atlantic region. Geological Society of London Special Publication, https://doi.org/10.1144/SP503-2020-96
  4. G-P Farangitakis*, P. J. Heron, K. J. McCaffrey, J. van Hunen, L. M. Kalnins, (2020), The impact of oblique inheritance and changes in relative plate motion on the development of rift-transform systems, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 541, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116277
  5. Heron, P. J., A. L. Peace, K. J. W. McCaffrey, J. K. Welford, R. Wilson, J. van Hunen, & R. N. Pysklywec, (2019). Segmentation of Rifts Through Structural Inheritance: Creation of the Davis Strait. Tectonics, 38. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019TC005578.
  6. Heron, P. J., R. N. Pysklywec, R. Stephenson and J. van Hunen (2019), Deformation driven by deep and distant structures: Influence of a mantle lithosphere suture in the Ouachita orogeny. Geology, DOI:10.1130/G45690.1.
  7. Heron, P. J. (2019), Mantle plumes and mantle dynamics in the Wilson Cycle, Geological Society Special Publication, Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics, https://doi.org/10.1144/SP470.18.
  8. Heron, P. J., Pysklywec R. N., and R. Stephenson (2018), Exploring the theory of plate tectonics: the role of mantle lithosphere structure, Geological Society Special Publication: Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics, https://doi.org/10.1144/SP470.7
  9. Heron, P. J., R. N. Pysklywec, and R. Stephenson (2016), Identifying mantle lithosphere inheritance in controlling intraplate orogenesis, J. Geophys. Res. (Solid Earth),6966–6987, doi:10.1002/2016JB013460
  10. Heron, P. J., R. N. Pysklywec, and R. Stephenson (2016), Lasting mantle scars lead to perennial plate tectonics, Nature Communications,doi:10.1038/ncomms11834.
  11. Heron, P. J. and R. N. Pysklywec (2016), Inherited structure and coupled crust-mantle lithosphere evolution: Numerical models of Central Australia, Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1002/2016GL068562.
  12. Heron, P. J., R. N. Pysklywec, and R. Stephenson (2015), Intraplate orogenesis within accreted and scarred lithosphere: Example of the Eurekan Orogeny, Ellesmere Island, Tectonophysics, 664, 28, 202-213 (invited manuscript). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2015.09.011.
  13. Heron, P. J., J. P. Lowman, and C. Stein (2015), Influences on the positioning of mantle plumes following supercontinent formation, J. Geophys. Res. (Solid Earth), 120, doi:10.1002/2014JB011727.
  14. 5.Trim, S. J., P. J. Heron, C. Stein, and J. P. Lowman (2014), The feedback between surface mobility and mantle compositional heterogeneity: implications for the Earth and other terrestrial planets, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., Vol. 405, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2014.08.019.
  15. Heron, P. J., and J. P. Lowman (2014), The impact of Rayleigh number on assessing the influence of supercontinent insulation, J. Geophys. Res. (Solid Earth),Vol. 119, doi:10.1002/2013JB010484.
  16. Heron, P. J., and J. P. Lowman (2011), The role of supercontinent thermal insulation and area in the formation of mantle plumes, Tectonophysics,510, 28-38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2011.07.002
  17. Heron, P. J., and J. P. Lowman (2010), Thermal response of the mantle following the formation of a ‘super-plate’, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 37, L22302. https://doi.org/10.1029/2010GL045136.
  18. Roman, D. C., and P. Heron, (2007), Effect of regional tectonic setting on local fault response to episodes of volcanic activity, Geophysical Research Letters,34, L13310, doi:10.1029/2007GL030222.

Publications in late-stage prep (n=3)                                   

  1. Heron, P. J., R. Stephenson,O, Lemna*, and R. N. Pysklywec, Highly segmented intercontinental rift systems: localization of deformation through mantle sutures, Geology
  2. Heron, P. J., C.O’Neill, S. Zhang, J. van Hunen, A. Rozel, and R. N. Pysklywec, LLSVP survival in the early Earth: efficient or inefficient mixing under a stagnant lid?, Geophysical Research Letters
  3. Heron, P. J., (in preparation), Accessible, inclusive, and relatable: analysis of a year teaching geoscience in prison, Geoscience Communication

Geoscientist Cover
Outreach article (written with Prof Garnero) for Geoscientist

Outreach articles_(n=6)                                                         

  1. Heron, P. J. (2020), Teaching geoscience in prison, Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, https://doi.org/10.1038/s43017-020-0020-7
  2. Heron, P.and E. Garnero, (2019), What lies beneath: Thoughts on the lower mantle. Geoscientist 29 (3), 10-15, https://doi.org/10.1144/geosci2019-015
  3. Heron, P. J.,(2019), Unlocking the doors to education for prisoners, Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 60, Issue 5, October, Page 5.13, https://doi.org/10.1093/astrogeo/atz173
  4. Heron, P. J.(2019), What I’ve learned from teaching prisoners to think like scientists, The Conversation5,000 reads
  5. Heron, P.,(2019) The ‘impact’ factor: Can we be more useful? Geoscientist 29 (4), 9, https://doi.org/10.1144/geosci2019-020
  6. Heron, P. J.,(2016), Plate tectonics: new findings fill out the 50-year-old theory that explains Earth’s landmasses, The Conversation 35,000 reads

Grants (over £1 million since 2017)                                                                                                     

2020: ComputeCanada Resource Allocation Award (with Prof Pysklywec) CAD$179,000

2018 – 2020:  Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Individual Fellowship €195,454

2019: ComputeCanada Resource Allocation Award (with Prof Pysklywec) CAD$179,000

2018: ComputeCanada Resource Allocation Award (with Prof Pysklywec) CAD$349,000

2017 – 2018: Junior Research Fellow £90,000 

2017: ComputeCanada Resource Allocation Award (with Prof Pysklywec) CAD$335,000

2018 – 2021:  Leverhulme Trust Fellowship for Dr Thomas Phillips (co-author)£90,000

 2018: ARCHER Resource Allocation Award for Pavlos Farangitakis (co-author) £14,000

2018: ARCHER Resource Allocation Award for Dr Rodriguez-Gonzalez (co-author)£20,000

2009 – 2014: University of Toronto Graduate Fellowship CAD$200,000

2005: Nuffield Bursary, University of Leeds, UK £1,350


2020: STEM for Britain Awards shortlisted

2019: Impact and Engagement Award, Durham University shortlisted

2019: European Geosciences Union outreach award €1,000

2019: British Geophysical Association outreach award £250

2013: Machlan-Gilchrist Scholarship, Canada CAD$1,500

2011: The Van Kranendonk Teaching Assistant Award, University of Toronto, CAD$100

2003: Conoco-Phillips Scholarship for highest overall grade, University of Leeds £500


Ph.D.: P. G. Farangitakis, 2018-2020, Durham University

UG:     O. Smith, 2020, Durham University; Hastie, 2020, Durham University; Knight, 2019, Durham University; Bradshaw-Down, 2019, Durham University; Peel, 2019, Durham University; Ives, 2019, Durham University; Barrett, 2019, Durham University; Warren, 2018, Durham University

M.Sc.: Z. Kotowych, 2016, University of Toronto; Housam, 2015, University of Toronto

Public Talks (n=5)                                                                                       

  1. A Journey to the Centre of the Earth Grey College, Durham University, October 2019
  2. A (Geophysical) Journey to the Centre of the Earth Lifelong Learning, Newcastle, May 2019
  3. What I’ve learned from teaching science in prison Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, April 2019
  4. A (Geophysical) Journey to the Centre of the Earth Saturday Morning Science, Durham University, Feb 2019
  5. The Future of Plate Tectonics [live stream at www.philheron.com/future-talkGeological Society of London Public Lecture Series, London, Oct 2018

Invited Academic Research Presentations (n=19)                                          

2019: Royal Society Outreach conference, Newcastle

2019:Celebrating Excellence, Awards Gala, Durham University

2018:University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

2018: ETH Zurich, Department of Geosciences, Zurich, Switzerland

2018:Study of the Earth’s Deep Interior, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2018:Imperial College, Department of Earth Sciences, London, England

2018:Liverpool University, Department of Earth Sciences, Liverpool, England

2017:University of Aberdeen, School of Geosciences, Aberdeen, Scotland

2017:The Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics, University of Oslo, Norway

2017:Laurentian University, Harquail School of Earth Sciences, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

2016:Cardiff University, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff, Wales

2016:Hull University, Department of Geology, Hull, England

2016:University of Toronto, Department of Earth Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2015:Durham University, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham, England

2015:Circum-Arctic Lithosphere Evolution Workshop, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

2015:Central Asian Tectonics and W Pacific Geodynamics Conference, Wuhan, China

2014:Deep Carbon Observatory Modelling Workshop, Washington, DC, USA

2009:Boston College, Seminar Series, Boston, MA, USA

2008:Boston College, Seminar Series, Boston, MA, USA

2019:Ada Lovelace Workshop on Mantle and Lithosphere Dynamics, Siena, Italy (declined)

2019: Lyell Geoscience Society, Royal Holloway University, UK (declined)

2019: Geological Society of America Annual Meeting,Phoenix, AZ, USA (declined)

2018: Leading Young Scientists Workshop, Oslo, Norway (declined)

Presentations (n=61, 20 talks & 24 posters as first author, 6 supervised authors)

* denotes supervised student author

Full list of presentations at Conferences.

Conference Organisation                                                                               

2019: Organiser, Prison Education and STEM Symposium, Durham University

2016: Lead Convenor,AGU (Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA)

2015: Chair,AGU (Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA).

2015: Convenor,AGU (Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA)

Professional Activity                                                                                     

2018 – 2020: Board of Studies post-doc representative, Earth Sciences, Durham University

2018 – 2020: Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Workshop consultant, Durham University

2015 – 2020: Member of IGCP Project #648Supercontinent Cycles and Global Geodynamics

2014 – 2020: Conducting outreach programs in primary schools in North-East and Canada

2017: Outreach participant for Durham County Council’s high school program

2017: Outreach participant for Durham University’s Celebrate Science

2015: Member of Circum-Arctic Lithosphere Evolution (CALE) Canadian team

2014: Member of Deep Carbon Observatory Geodynamic modelling team

2010 – 2014: Student treasurer for the Societyof Exploration Geophysics

Reviewer:Science; Nature Communications; Geology; Geophysical Research Letters; G3: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems; NSF; Tectonophysics; Royal Society Special Publications; Terra Nova; EPSL.