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A celebrated polar scientist arrived at Heriot-Watt University last night to deliver a public lecture on Antarctica’s prehistoric past.   

A large crowd attended the University’s Edinburgh Campus on Thursday 5 April, to hear from Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey.

Professor Francis is a leading British scientist who has taken part in more than 15 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica since her first trip in 1989. 

She was invited to deliver her keynote talk at the annual Vice-Chancellor Distinguished Lecture and to share her expertise on Antarctica’s past as well as provide an insight into our future warm world. 

Professor Francis said: “My research has literally taken me to the ends of the Earth. Amongst the ice and snow I have found fossils of warmth-loving leaves that reveal a world of tropical forests and dinosaurs in the polar regions, signals of a past warm planet that might see again in future.”

In 2017, Professor Francis was appointed Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in recognition of services to UK polar science and diplomacy.  She is also Chancellor of the University of Leeds and recipient of the Polar Medal for outstanding polar research.
 
Professor Francis’ visit also formed as part of Heriot-Watt’s Year of the Sea campaign. Throughout 2018, the University will delve into the depths of the world’s oceans to explore new opportunities offered by this unique resource, and engineering innovative ways to work with our seas, oceans and rivers. 

Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said: “It was a tremendous honour to welcome Professor Francis to our Distinguished Lecture during our Year of the Sea celebrations. 
 
“Global warming and the impact of melting ice sheets on our climate remains hugely topical and a subject that affects us all and is at the heart of much of our research at the Lyell Centre, and in collaboration with the British Geological Society.” 

The Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Lectures invite global leaders of industry, business and academia to share their knowledge and vision with students, colleagues and guests.  The lectures cover globally important topics, from manufacturing and energy sustainability to the future of the internet, and are designed to provoke discussion and debate.