Big-geoscience for the future

Professor John Ludden

We aim to create a cultural shift, towards a solutions-based approach at the interface of environmental, engineering and social science, to respond to urgent global problems

Professor John Ludden CBE

Professor John Ludden is the Bicentennial Professor of Environmental Governance and Diplomacy at the Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt University. Drawing on his extensive international experience in the earth and environment sector, his Professorship focuses on science governance and diplomacy, developing links across disciplines and strengthening communication with the public and policy makers.

He is driving an environment sustainability focus for the Lyell Centre with the Hutton Series at Adam Smith’s Panmure House; linking solution-based engineering science with policy, governance, diplomacy and society, to provide a fresh focus for Scottish environmental sciences.

Professor Ludden has been the instigator of some of the biggest, big-geoscience projects of the past decades from deep Earth sounding through geophysics to drilling the ocean’s abyss. He was instrumental in building European and global geoscience infrastructure initiatives including innovative public engagement strategies; ECORD, EPOS and Onegeology

A future global initiative that will enhance the sustainable development of the planet, is to drill into an active 900oC magma system in Krafla Iceland, to harness its energy, and to experiment with new volcano monitoring technology that will improve prediction and mitigation of future eruptions. 

Real World Impact

Professor Ludden led the case for UK-GEOS - a group of permanent underground observatories with an energy focus. With a £40 million investment from UKRI one observatory is focused on the use of subsurface heat in legacy mine-workings in Glasgow and contributes evidence that informs Scottish policy in this area.

As Director of the British Geological Survey (BGS) for 13 years, he instigated a step change in the scientific visibility of the Survey through a tripling of research outputs,  raising in the region of £140 million in capital. One third of BGS’s annual resources are in Scotland and with Heriot-Watt University, NERC-UKRI and the Scottish Government, he championed the creation of the Lyell Centre, providing a new impetus for BGS and stronger visibility for Scottish Geology. 

Read more about the Lyell Centre and the BGS.

Key information

John Ludden