31 December, 2016

Two leading polar scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have received awards in the 2017 New Year Honours list from Her Majesty the Queen.

BAS Director, Professor Jane Francis, is appointed Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (DCMG) in recognition of services to UK polar science and diplomacy.

Professor David Vaughan, Director of Science at BAS, is made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to science.

Professor Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey
Professor Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey

 

Professor David Vaughan, BAS Director of Science
Professor David Vaughan, BAS Director of Science

As well as spending many years researching geology in the polar regions, Professor Francis has been deeply involved with the Antarctic Treaty – a unique international agreement which protects the world’s largest and most pristine wilderness.

She is the first woman to have chaired the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting Working Group on Science and Operations.

Professor Francis said: “This award comes as a surprise and an honour. It has been a pleasure to have worked together with so many friends from polar nations around the world to ensure that Antarctica remains a continent dedicated to peace and science – science that matters to everyone on planet Earth.”

Jane Francis with ammonite in Antarctica
Jane Francis with ammonite in Antarctica

Professor Vaughan is a pre-eminent climate scientist who, for over 30 years, has studied the changes taking place in the Polar Regions – and how they impact the rest of the planet. He now leads a team of more than 150 researchers and postgraduate students at British Antarctic Survey, whose work paints a picture of profound change in polar ice, ocean, plants and animals at rates never observed before.

He said: “I am proud to lead a team of dedicated and committed scientists at BAS who are working to understand the Polar Regions and how changes there impact lives around the world. Indeed, 2016 was an extraordinary year in both the Arctic and Antarctic.  This December, there has been less sea ice around the poles than we’ve seen in any December since satellite records began in the 1970s”

Professor Vaughan has journeyed ‘South’ to the Antarctic a dozen times and has led field research campaigns in some of the most remote parts of Antarctica, often living in tents on the ice for months at a time. Recalling his first journey to Antarctica in 1985, he said: “I first went to Antarctica as a surveyor’s assistant – I spent three months writing numbers down in a notebook in a landscape that captured my imagination so completely, I’ve returned many times. Since then, I have documented changes in Antarctica in scientific data and with my own eyes.”

“Whether we know it or not, our own futures are inextricably linked to changes in polar regions, and it is my job – and passion – to witness and report those changes. It is a great honour to be awarded an OBE for services to science, and I hope that this recognition will serve to further spread the word about the importance of the science we do in the Polar Regions and perhaps about the inspiration we can take from the wild places on our planet.”

Professor David Vaughan, BAS Director of Science, in Antarctica
David Vaughan in Antarctica

 

Professor Jane Francis DCMG, in recognition of services to UK polar science and diplomacy.

Professor Francis is the first woman to have chaired the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting Working Group on Science & Operations and the fourth woman in history to receive the Polar Medal. Since being appointed director of BAS in 2013, she has had a dual role of ensuring UK scientific polar excellence and promoting British sovereign interests in Antarctica. As the first female director of BAS, she has embraced gender diversity and been an inspiration and influential figure in the British scientific establishment. She has also undertaken a wide range of international roles to promote the UK’s polar interests and sits on polar science advisory boards for other countries.

As well as spending many years researching geology in the polar regions, Professor Francis has been deeply involved with the Antarctic Treaty – a unique international agreement which protects the world’s largest and most pristine wilderness.

Professor David Vaughan OBE, for services to glaciology.

Professor David Vaughan is the Director of Science at British Antarctic Survey with responsibility for the strategic development and excellence in scientific output of the science teams employed by the British Antarctic Survey.  He chairs the BAS Science Strategy Team and is a member of NERC Science Board.  He is the foremost UK expert on understanding the response of ice sheets in the polar regions to climate change. He served as co-ordinating lead author in two rounds of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports and was responsible for identifying the policy-relevant issues and negotiating the acceptance of key findings by high-level policymakers.

In 2003, Professor Vaughan was awarded the Polar Medal by Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of his outstanding work on recent changes in the Antarctic ice sheet.

Over the last 18 years, Professor Vaughan has been a key lead author of chapters on the Polar Regions and the cryosphere in three assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC reports provide world leaders and policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

After completing an MSc in geophysics at Durham University, Professor Vaughan joined British Antarctic Survey as a Field Glaciologist in 1985.

He is an Honorary Professor at the School of the Environment and Society, University of Wales, Swansea.

For more information please contact Athena Dinar, Senior PR & Communications Manager, British Antarctic Survey, tel: +44 (0)1223 221 441; mobile: +44 (0)7909 008516; email: [email protected]