The British Science Association (BSA) have today (Thursday 13 July) announced Director of British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Professor Dame Jane Francis as its President 2023/24.

Jane takes over the Presidency from computer scientist, mathematician and author, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE.

Jane will commence her one year-term with the annual Presidential address – an ‘in conversation’-style event on Thursday 7 September – at this year's British Science Festival, hosted by the University of Exeter.

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Jane was the fourth woman in history to have received the UK Polar Medal, an award for those who have contributed invaluably to polar expeditions under extreme conditions, as scientists or military personnel. The first Polar Medal recognised Captain Robert F. Scott's pioneering expedition to the Antarctic region.

In her role as Director of BAS, Jane promotes the UK’s scientific and diplomatic interests in Antarctica. She is the first woman to have been appointed Director of BAS.

Jane’s research focused on the interface between geology and biology and ancient climates of the geological past. Jane has also been involved with the Antarctic Treaty, being the first woman to chair the Consultative Meeting Working Group on Science & Operations.

Jane Francis, President-Elect of the BSA, says:

“I am delighted to accept the honorary role of President of the British Science Association. I have long admired the BSA’s work on helping to promote a more diverse and inclusive landscape in science, and encouraging the science community to engage public audiences meaningfully in their work.

“It’s great to see that the BSA is already working to engage communities across the UK with the role of the Antarctic in climate change via their Antarctica in the Community grant scheme. I’m really pleased to be able to support the BSA, attend this year’s Festival in Exeter and be part of the British Science Week 30th anniversary celebrations in March 2024.”

Hilary Newiss, Chair of the BSA, says:

“We are so pleased to welcome Jane as our incoming President. We have long admired her ability to convene people to tackle issues around climate change, with a particular focus on the impact of the climate crisis on Antarctica.

“Her passion for advocating for better gender diversity in her field is inspiring and makes her an excellent fit for this role. Jane’s remarkable achievements and extensive experience in the world of science will bring useful insights to the work of the BSA.”

The role of President is a year-long, honorary appointment which commences in September, coinciding with the annual British Science Festival. The President works with the Chief Executive, Senior Management Team and Council to use their platform, driving the BSA’s mission to make science more relevant, representative and connected to society.

Other past Presidents of the BSA include Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor Alice Roberts, Professor Dame Athene Donald, Professor Dame Uta Frith, Lord Browne of Madingley, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell and Sir David Attenborough.