NERC community recognised in Queen's New Year Honours 2018

8 January 2018

NERC would like to congratulate colleagues and members of the environmental science community who have been recognised in the Queen's New Year honours list 2018.

This year's recipients were honoured for their vital work across a range of environmental science areas including managing floods and flood risk, micro plastic pollution in our oceans, volcanology, geomagnetism, meteorology and biodiversity, as well as science communication and citizen science.

Among those receiving new accolades were Professor Stephen Sparks, Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, who has been awarded a knighthood; Professor Richard Thompson, University of Plymouth, non-executive NERC director Paul Hayden, Professor Kathryn Whaler at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Phil Trathan at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), who were each awarded an OBE; Professor Helen Roy at the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), who was awarded an MBE; and Maureen Smith, Operations Manager for the NERC research aircraft, the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM), who was recognised with a BEM.


Professor Stephen SparksProfessor Stephen Sparks has been given a knighthood for services to volcanology and geology.

A leading authority on volcanology and risk associated with natural hazards, Sir Stephen is Professor of Geology in the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences and a member of the Cabot Institute. He has been recognised for his major contribution to the advancement of our understanding of the study of igneous rocks and volcanology, including monitoring of eruptions, mapping of volcanoes, nuclear waste management and the geology of natural resources.

Sir Stephen said:

"I am absolutely thrilled to receive the honour which recognises the importance of geology and environmental sciences for stewardship of the Earth and making sure of a sustainable future."


Professor Richard ThompsonProfessor Richard Thompson has been awarded an OBE for services to marine science.

The Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth, Professor Thompson is a world leader on the problems caused by plastic pollution in the marine environment and the potential solutions. A marine biologist for more than two decades, his research focuses on the effects of plastic debris, the modification of coastal engineering to enhance biodiversity, and the ecology and conservation of shallow water habitats.

Richard said:

"It is a great and unexpected honour to be made an OBE. I have always been passionate about our oceans and trying to raise awareness of the environmental issues they are facing. In my view, there are solutions to many of these problems but we need to act now in order to safeguard our seas and their wildlife for the future."


Paul HaydenPaul Hayden QFSM has been awarded an OBE for services to flood risk management and disaster response.

He is the Chair of the Anglian Eastern Regional Flood & Coastal Committee and a non-executive director on NERC's management board. Mr Hayden spent 35 years in local government and disaster risk management, gaining more than 20 years' strategic management experience. In 2010, then the Chief Fire Officer for Hereford & Worcester Fire Service, Mr Hayden was awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal in recognition of his distinguished service. His current role has responsibility for overseeing investment in flood, habitat and environmental protection schemes across the East of England. He also sits on the programme board for TE2100, a project protecting 1·25 million people and £200 billion worth of property from tidal flood risk across London and the Thames Estuary.

Paul said:

"This is an unexpected honour. There has never been a more pressing need to connect science, communities and decision makers in order to protect societies and the environment, and I am proud to work alongside so many colleagues dedicated to that process."


Professor Kathryn WhalerProfessor Kathryn Whaler has been awarded an OBE for her services to geophysics.

Professor Whaler holds the Chair of Geophysics at the University of Edinburgh, with a research focus on geomagnetism. She currently co-leads a NERC-funded project studying volcanism in the Ethiopian part of the East African rift system, and is contributing to the NERC's research on the effects of space weather on ground infrastructure. She is also a member of the NERC Training Advisory Board.

Kathryn said:

"I am absolutely delighted to be receiving this honour. I'd like to acknowledge the many talented and dedicated scientists who have enabled and supported my contributions to research and leadership."


Dr Phil TrathanDr Phil Trathan, British Antarctic Survey, has received an OBE for services to Southern Ocean science and conservation.

Dr Trathan is the Head of Conservation Biology at the British Antarctic Survey and a Scientific Adviser to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). His research focuses on biology, ecology and management of marine ecosystems in the Antarctic. He is particularly interested in how seabirds utilise their available habitat and how this relates to their reproductive output and performance. His work includes advising CCAMLR on the designation of the South Orkney Islands southern shelf marine protected area (MPA), the first MPA anywhere in the world in areas outside of national jurisdiction, and providing scientific advice to the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI), leading to the designation of the SGSSI sustainably managed marine protected area. In addition, he is the founding Chair of the Science Advisory Group of the Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund, a collaboration between the fishing industry, non-governmental organisations and scientists.


Professor Helen RoyProfessor Helen Roy has been awarded an MBE for services to biodiversity research, science communication and citizen science.

Professor Roy is the Head of Zoology within the Biological Records Centre at CEH and jointly leads CEH's Population Ecology research group. Her CV includes leading major citizen science initiatives involving tens of thousands of people, including the BBC's Breathing Places parasite survey and EDF Energy's Big Bumblebee Discovery. Professor Roy's research focuses on the effects of environmental change on insect populations and communities, including the effects of invasive non-native species on biodiversity.

Helen said:

"I am surprised and delighted to receive this honour. I am so privileged to work with many, many volunteers in the biological recording community - they are inspiring and this award celebrates their fantastic contributions to biodiversity research."


Maureen SmithMaureen (Mo) Smith has been awarded a BEM for services to atmospheric science and meteorology.

Ms Smith is the Operations Manager & Senior Flight Manager for the joint NERC-Met Office Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements. She is part of the Met Office contingent at FAAM and is affiliated to the NERC research centre, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS). Ms Smith has led FAAM's planning of missions using the FAAM aircraft around the world for the past 10 years.


Further information

Mary Goodchild
NERC News & Media Officer
01793 411939
07710 147485