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Geological Society Fellows among UK's leading practising scientists

Seven Geological Society of London Fellows, including two former Presidents, have been named on the Science Council’s list of the UK’s 100 leading professional scientists. Launched to celebrate the Science Council’s 10th birthday, the competition has been held to recognise the many different ways professional scientists contribute to UK society.

Professor Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, who uses fossil plants to study past climate, and Professor James Jackson, who researches active continental tectonics at the University of Cambridge, are listed in the ‘explorer’ category of scientists, which recognises those on ‘a journey of discovery.’ Tricia Henton, a leading environmental geoscientist, is recognised for her work in contaminated land and hydrogeology, whilst Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former GSL President, former Chairman of the Shell Group and non executive director of Anglo American, is recognised for his work in business, and his advocacy of corporate responsibility and action on climate change. Dr Andrew Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer of BHP Billiton, is also recognised for his work in business, whilst Dr Alan Gibbs, Director and Founder of the company Midland Valley is listed in the ‘entrepreneur’ category. Lord Ron Oxburgh, former GSL President and President of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, is recognised as a champion of alternative energy sources and the move to a low-carbon economy, and his commitment to the intersection of government and science.

The list, released today, aims to ‘highlight a collective blind spot in the approach of government, media and public to science’, by emphasising the wide range of skills, knowledge and expertise scientists draw on.

Chief executive of the Science Council, Diana Garnham, said ‘it is vital that this narrow vision is challenged urgently because it is inhibiting education policy, the career ambitions of young people and investment in developing the skills we need to deliver a world class economy.’

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said ‘This list helpfully challenges the perception that there is only one kind of scientist and highlights the different types of skills and challenges a career in science involves...we need to show that the scientific community is not some exclusive club but people with a wide variety of vocations and interests who have rewarding careers and are making a significant contribution to the wealth and well-being of the UK.

The diverse list includes research scientists, teachers, policy makers, communicators, entrepreneurs and business managers. The judging panel was chaired by Science Council President Sir Tom Blundell and included Joanne Hodges, Head of Science and Society Team at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS); Dr David Evans, formerly BIS, Technology Strategy Board and a former trustee of the Science Council; Lady Carolyn Roberts, widow of the Science Council’s founding President, Sir Gareth Roberts; Ben Meghreblian, young scientist and representative from Sense about Science; Katherine Mathieson, Director of Education at the British Science Association; Nick Ross, journalist and broadcaster; and Diana Garnham, chief executive of the Science Council.