Andrew McGonigle

2008 Laureate, Applied Technology
United Kingdom, Born 1973

Project Goal

Develop a way to predict volcanic eruptions using a remote-controlled helicopter

Location: Italy

Growing up exploring the rugged Scottish Highlands gave Andrew McGonigle early exposure to volcanoes. But his first love was physics, providing the basis for "simple, elegant solutions to real problems".

Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield, England, Andrew McGonigle has from an early age shown an interest in both physics and geography.

The opportunity for the Scottish professor, born in 1973, to marry these two disciplines came when Clive Oppenheimer of the University of Cambridge, who was looking for a physicist to monitor volcanic gas plumes, hired him.

Since then, McGonigle has carried out seminal research on volcanoes, exploring 15 of them worldwide and developing a reliable and safe way to predict eruptions. His project to use a remote-controlled helicopter to measure telltale gases and warn millions of people of impending disaster earned him a Rolex Award in 2008.

In preparation for field trials in Italy, McGonigle is currently sourcing a new helicopter and scientific instruments. He is also working on another project using ultraviolet digital cameras to monitor volcanic gases from afar.

In His Own Words

Other 2008 Laureates