Chris Rapley

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Christopher Graham Rapley CBE (known as Chris Rapley) (born 8 April 1947)[1] is a British scientist. He was Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme IGBP from 1994 to 1998, and Director of the British Antarctic Survey from 1998 to 2007. He was appointed Director of the Science Museum in 2007, stepping down in 2010. In 2008 he was awarded the Edinburgh Science Medal – "For professional achievements judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity" He is currently Professor of Climate Science in the Department of Earth Sciences, University College London. In 2014 he and playwright Duncan Macmillan were commissioned by the Royal Court Theatre to write a play on climate change, 2071, which he performed there in late 2014.

Life and career[edit]

Born on 8 April 1947, Rapley was educated at King Edward's School, Bath, Jesus College, Oxford (obtaining a BA in Physics in 1969), Manchester University (obtaining a MSc in Radio Astronomy in 1976) and University College, London (obtaining a PhD in X-ray Astronomy in 1976).[2][3][4]

Between 1975 and 1981, Rapley was a scientist on NASA's Solar Maximum Mission, and was then a lecturer at the Department of Space and Climate Physics of University College London from 1981 to 1987.[4] He was professor of Remote Sensing Science at University College London from 1991 to 1997 and was Director of the British Antarctic Survey from 1998 to 2007.[2][3] During his time in the Antarctic, he helped Al Gore with the "Live Earth" concert by arranging for the Rothera Research Station's in-house band, Nunatak, to perform in Antarctica as part of the event.[4]

Rapley became a Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge in 1999 and was awarded the CBE. In 2007, he was appointed as Director of the Science Museum, stepping down in 2010.[2] He has been critical of environmental organisations that have let the issue of overpopulation fall off their agendas.[5] He is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge.[6]


Rapley co-wrote a one-man play 2071 with playwright Duncan Macmillan, which he performed at London's Royal Court Theatre in November 2014.[7] The play was published in June, 2015.[8]

Portrait of Rapley[edit]

Rapley agreed to sit for Jon Edgar in Fittleworth during 2009 as part of the sculptor's environmental series[9] of heads.


Prior to the 2015 general election, he endorsed the parliamentary candidacy of the Green Party's Caroline Lucas.[10]


  1. ^ "Birthdays", The Guardian, 8 April 2014
  2. ^ a b c "Rapley, Prof. Christopher Graham". Who's Who 2009. Oxford University Press. December 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
  3. ^ a b "New Director of Science Museum". Jesus College, Oxford. 23 July 2007. Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Randerson, James (31 August 2007). "Profile: Chris Rapley, the Science Museum's new director". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
  5. ^ CONNOR, STEVE. "Overpopulation 'is main threat to planet'". The Independent, UK broadsheet newspaper.
  6. ^ "St Edmund's College - University of Cambridge". Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  7. ^ McKie, Robin (1 November 2014). "Royal Court play 2071 looks at future of humankind after global warming". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  8. ^ Rapley, Chris; MacMillan, Duncan (18 June 2015). 2071: The World We’ll Leave Our Grandchildren. London: John Murray. ISBN 9781473622159. OCLC 912663462.
  9. ^ authors, various (2008). Responses - Carvings and Claywork - Jon Edgar Sculpture 2003-2008. UK: Hesworth Press. ISBN 978-0-9558675-0-7.
  10. ^ Elgot, Jessica (24 April 2015). "Celebrities sign statement of support for Caroline Lucas – but not the Greens". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 July 2015.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Jon Tucker
Director of the Science Museum
2007 – 2010
Succeeded by
Ian Blatchford