Professor John Underhill

Professor John Underhill
Professor John Underhill
Professor John Underhill

Director - Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Transition

Senior Vice Principals


John Underhill is Aberdeen University’s Interdisciplinary Director for Energy Transition and Professor in Geoscience and Energy Transition in their School of Geosciences. He is the academic executive director of the UK's GeoNetZero* Centre of Doctoral Training (CDT). His research interests focus upon the role of geoscience in the energy transition and use of methods and data in providing the best solutions and outcomes to deliver low-carbon net zero goals. Before taking up an academic career that has seen him hold posts at Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Aberdeen Universities, John worked as an Exploration Geoscientist for Shell and has also undertaken sabbaticals with bp in Glasgow and Norsk Hydro in Bergen. John helped lead Heriot-Watt's efforts to set up the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology and was the University's Chief Scientist. He was a board member of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) for three years and their President in 2011-12. John was the Chair of the National Energy Skills Accelerator (NESA), a collaboration between Aberdeen University, Robert Gordon University *RGU), North-East Scotland College, Skills development Scotland and Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) in 2022-23. An unusual fact is that he also was a professional football referee who officiated in the top-flight matches in Scotland and Europe between 1994-2008.


*GeoNetZero = The Role of Geoscience in the Energy Transition and in addressing the Challenge to meet net zero emission targets

External Memberships

John populated the Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) between 2019-2022, the leading independent scientific advisory body in Scotland and he continues to be part of the UK’s Subsurface Task Force (STF).

He is a Fellow of the Geological Society and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE).

Prizes and Awards

John has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Geological Society’s Lyell Medal, their Energy Group’s Silver Medal and President's Award, the AAPG’s Matson, Beydoun and Grover Murray Distinguished Lecturer Awards, EAGE’s Alfred Wegener Award and  Distinguished Lecturer Awards and the Edinburgh Geological Society’s Clough Medal.


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Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals