About Virtual Microscope

An overview, our backstory, the user guide and contacts

The team

Several areas of The Open University have contributed to the Virtual Microscope for Earth Sciences project over the years.

Founders and contributors

Simon Kelley and Andy Tindle of the Science faculty supplied the mineralogy and geology expertise, acquired and digitised samples, and developed collections and teaching resources. Peter Whalley of the Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) invented and developed the concept of the Virtual Microscope for Earth Sciences; Jon Linney, Chris Valentine and Kevin Quick in the KMi team developed several pilot virtual microscope applications. Nigel Clarke of Pentahedra Ltd produced the Virtual Microscope and rotating specimen HTML5 assets. Learning and Teaching Solutions project managed, designed and created the Drupal website to host the Virtual Microscope; we would like to thank David Pilgrim, Glen Darby and Mike Stock for their contributions to the 2021 website upgrade.

We would also like to thank Jeremy Hooper (Imerys), Henry Emeleus (Durham University) and John Watson (The Open University) for their contribution of samples and assistance, and Michelle Higgins and Kay Green who prepared many of the thin sections.

Suzanne Schwenzer succeeded Simon Kelley as project lead, followed by Tom Argles, who oversaw an upgrade of the site in January 2021. We are grateful to Stacy PhillipsKay Green and Michelle Higgins for their hard work in 2020-21 meeting the high demand for new assets during the coronavirus pandemic.


  • British Geological Survey
    Contact: Mike Howe
  • The Geological Society of London
    Contact: Richard Hughes
  • The Hunterian – University of Glasgow
    Contact: John Faithfull
  • The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland
    Contact: Kevin Murphy
  • National Museum Wales, Cardiff
    Contact: Richard Bevins
  • The Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
    Contact: Jennifer Woolcock
  • Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
    Contact: Sarah Hammond

We also have a number of University partners:

  • Irish University Group:
       University College Dublin
       Trinity College Dublin
       University College Cork
       National University of Ireland Galway
    Contact: Pat Meere
  • University of Leeds
    Contact: Dan Morgan
  • University of Leicester
    Contact: Gawen Jenkin
  • University of Plymouth
    Contact: Paul Cole
  • University of Portsmouth
    Contact: Craig Storey

Other projects linked to the Virtual Microscope for Earth Sciences

The OpenScience Laboratory