Dr Scott Hocknull
Scott's career path is a story of childhood dreams come true-his passion for studying dinosaurs and palaeontology as a boy was realised when he was appointed as a curator of Geosciences at the Queensland Museum at the age of just 22 years. This made him the youngest curator of any Australian museum, and his achievements earned him the 2002 Young Australian of the Year Award.
Scott developed a passion for dinosaurs when he was a child. He officially began his professional career in palaeontology in 1994, at the age of 16, when he published his first scientific paper on a new species of fossil freshwater bivalve. Through his early work he discovered and scientifically described and published numerous new genera and species of extinct prehistoric animal. He became at that time Australia's youngest scientific author! Since then, he has worked on a range of extinct animals from freshwater mollusks and marine worms to extinct giant frogs and gigantic dinosaurs.
Scott volunteered at the Queensland Museum for 10 years during his school holidays and whilst attending university, focusing for a full 12 months in 1995 on his own research before beginning university studies at the University of Queensland (UQ). During these voluntary years Scott collected numerous new fossil sites for the museum, some of which are hailed as the most significant of their type in Australian palaeontological history.
He graduated from UQ in 2000 with first class honours in the areas of Geology and Zoology.
The 2002 Young Australian of the Year Award came in recognition of Scott's outstanding work. A particularly fruitful year for Scott, in 2002 he was also awarded the Young Australian of the Year for Queensland, Queensland Career Achiever, Queensland Science and Technology Achiever, and National Career Achiever!
These awards have given him the opportunity to travel across Australia where he inspires young people, motivates young managers and promotes his science as a youth ambassador for events such as National Youth Week, National Science Week, Australia Day and Palaeoweek.
In 2009 Scott completed his Doctorate focusing on the evolution of Australia and Papua New Guinea's fauna, flora and climate over the last 15 million years.
His current research encompass the study of climatic, environmental and faunal change in Australia over the past 110 million years with the aim of aiding in the conservation management of Australia's living species. “The past is the key to understanding our present, and predicting our future” is a phrase Scott works by as part of his lifetime goals in Australian palaeontology.
Amongst numerous field-based research programs associated with universities and community groups across the country, Scott is the lead researcher on Australian dinosaur discoveries near the townships of Winton and Eromanga. In 2009 he and his colleagues from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum discovered and named three new species of dinosaur, including Australia’s most complete theropod (carnivorous dinosaur) skeleton, scientifically named Australovenator wintonensis. Along with these discoveries, Scott works closely with the Outback Gondwana Foundation, based in Eromanga, surrounding the discovery of 'Cooper' Australia's Largest dinosaur.
Scott knows there are lifetimes worth of work for future palaeontologists studying in Australia and his goal is to make palaeontology a more accessible and better funded science. As Scott has proven, you can start practicing science at a very young age.
- 2009 Riversleigh Medal
- 2009 Queensland’s 50 Best and Brightest, Queensland Courier Mail
- 2005 Neville Stephens Medal, Geological Society of Australia
- 2007 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Finalist
- 2007 Finalist, Eve Pownell Award for Information Books, Amazing Facts about Australian Dinosaurs.
- 2003 Centenary Medalist
- 2003 Finalist Eureka Awards British Council for Inspiring Science
- 2002 Young Australian of the Year
- 2002 Young Queenslander of the Year
- 2002 National Career Achiever
- 2002 Queensland Career Achiever
- 2002 Queensland Science & Technology Achiever
- 1997 Best student presentation Award, 6th Conference of Australian Vertebrate Evolution Palaeontology and Systematics, 1997
Amazing new discoveries in outback Queensland herald a new age for Australian dinosaur hunters, a so-called dinosaur 'rush'. Australia's dinosaur fossil record is poorly known and is considered by overseas palaeontologists to be devoid of new discoveries.
Hypsilophodontid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from latest Albian, Winton Formation, central Queensland
Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 52(2): 212.