Jane Francis

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Dame Jane Francis
Chancellor of the University of Leeds
Assumed office
9 July 2018
Preceded byMelvyn Bragg
Personal details
Jane Elizabeth Francis

October 1956 (age 62)
Alma materUniversity of Southampton
WebsiteJane Francis at British Antarctic Survey
Scientific career
ThesisThe fossil forests of the basal Purbeck formation (upper jurassic) of Dorset, Southern England (1982)

Dame Jane Elizabeth Francis DCMG is the Director of the British Antarctic Survey.[1] She previously worked as Professor of Palaeoclimatology at the University of Leeds where she also was Dean of the Faculty of Environment.[2][3][4][5][6] In 2002 she was the fourth woman to receive the Polar Medal for outstanding contribution to British polar research. She is currently the Chancellor of the University of Leeds.[7][8][9]


Francis was educated at Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School in Canterbury, and received both her undergraduate degree in Geology and her PhD from the University of Southampton.[10]


Francis was a NERC research student in geology/biology at Southampton University from 1979 until 1982.[1] She continued on as a NERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Bedford College, London, until 1984.[1] She was appointed to a position as Palaeobotanist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), from 1984–1986.[1]

For five years Francis was a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Professor Larry Frakes at the University of Adelaide.[1] In 1991 she accepted a position as a lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Leeds UK; she was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1996. In 2002, she was awarded the Polar Medal, becoming only the fourth woman in history to receive the award.[11]

She was promoted to Professor of Palaeoclimatology in the School of Earth and Environment and was the Director for the Centre for Polar Science at the University of Leeds,[8] before becoming Dean of the Faculty of Environment in 2008.[1] She is an Honorary Professor at the University of Leeds. On 1 October 2013 Professor Francis took up her post as Director of the British Antarctic Survey, becoming the first woman Director of the institution.[12]

Francis's principal interests are in palaeoclimatology and palaeobotany. She specialises in the study of fossil plants, and their use as tools for climate interpretation and information about past biodiversity:[13][14] for example, understanding past climate change during greenhouse and icehouse periods.[15] Her research has emphasised the "Antarctic paradox," that although the Antarctic is largely inhospitable now, its abundant plant fossils indicate a drastically warmer past climate.[16] She has undertaken more than 16 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic.[17]

Francis was described by the Geological Society of London during the awarding of her Coke Medal as playing a "pivotal role in shaping and directing the Earth science carried out in polar regions, through her extensive service on a staggeringly wide range of national and international policy committees."[13] She is also the first woman to chair the Operations Working Group of Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, the international forum of nations concerned with legal and operational issues in Antarctica.[18]

Francis holds a number of memberships of national and international scientific bodies.[15] She is a member of the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Executive Board; member of the Scientific Advisory Group of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat; Executive committee member of the European Polar Board; and UK Delegate to the international Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.[19][20]


Francis's contributions have been recognised with numerous awards. Most notably, she was awarded the Polar Medal in 2002 for outstanding contribution to British polar research, presented by H.M. Elizabeth II, and was the fourth woman ever to receive the award.[21]

She received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Leeds in 2014,[22] as well as an Honorary Doctorate of Environmental Science from the University Of Plymouth, also in 2014.[23] In that same year she was named "Explorer Scientist" among 100 leading UK scientists by The Science Council.[17] She also has been awarded the Coke Medal from the Geological Society of London (2014);[24] the President's Award of the Paleontological Society;[25] the Antarctic Service Medal from the US National Science Foundation;[25] and the Workplace Achievement Award from the BBC's 'eve' magazine, sponsored by Nivea.[25]

In the 2017 New Year Honours, Francis was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG) for services to polar science and diplomacy.[26][27]

In 2017, Francis became the seventh Chancellor of the University of Leeds, succeeding Melvyn Bragg.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Jane Francis". www.bas.ac.uk. British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  2. ^ Frakes, L. A.; Francis, J. E. (1988). "A guide to Phanerozoic cold polar climates from high-latitude ice-rafting in the Cretaceous". Nature. 333 (6173): 547. Bibcode:1988Natur.333..547F. doi:10.1038/333547a0.
  3. ^ Dettmann, M. E.; Molnar, R. E.; Douglas, J. G.; Burger, D.; Fielding, C.; Clifford, H. T.; Francis, J.; Jell, P.; Rich, T.; Wade, M.; Rich, P. V.; Pledge, N.; Kemp, A.; Rozefelds, A. (1992). "Australian cretaceous terrestrial faunas and floras: Biostratigraphic and biogeographic implications". Cretaceous Research. 13 (3): 207. doi:10.1016/0195-6671(92)90001-7.
  4. ^ Francis, J. E.; Poole, I. (2002). "Cretaceous and early Tertiary climates of Antarctica: Evidence from fossil wood". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 182: 47. Bibcode:2002PPP...182...47F. doi:10.1016/S0031-0182(01)00452-7.
  5. ^ Woolfe, K. J.; Stewart, L. K.; Francis, J. E.; Arnot, M. J. (2000). "PC99: A new freeware for manipulating and graphically displaying palaeocurrent data". Sedimentary Geology. 133: 1. Bibcode:2000SedG..133....1W. doi:10.1016/S0037-0738(00)00034-8.
  6. ^ "Jane Francis interviewed by Jim Al-Khalili". BBC.
  7. ^ Solutions, Web. "Senior lay officers and the executive". www.leeds.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  8. ^ a b "University of Leeds". University of Leeds Faculty of Environment. 2011. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  9. ^ Jane Francis's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  10. ^ Francis, Jane E. (1982). The fossil forests of the basal Purbeck formation (upper jurassic) of Dorset, Southern England (PhD thesis). University of Southampton.
  11. ^ "Reporter 480, 22 April 2002 -". reporter.leeds.ac.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Jane Francis: Highlights". British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  13. ^ a b "The Geological Society of London – 2014 Awards: Citations and Replies". www.geolsoc.org.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Impact of global disturbances on evolution of polar life – Project – British Antarctic Survey". www.bas.ac.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Jane Francis – British Antarctic Survey". www.bas.ac.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  16. ^ Francis, Jane; et al. (2008). "100 Million Years of Antarctic Climate Evolution: Evidence from Fossil Plants" (PDF). Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  17. ^ a b "2014 list of leading UK practising scientists – The Science Council". The Science Council. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  18. ^ "ATS – The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM)". www.ats.aq. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  19. ^ "NERC - Membership". NERC. National Environmental Research Council. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Jane Francis: Highlights". British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  21. ^ "The Reporter, Issue 480". University of Leeds. 22 April 2002. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  22. ^ "News Inner: Earth and Environment". www.see.leeds.ac.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Legends of music and dance take to the Graduation stage at Plymouth University". Plymouth University. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  24. ^ "The Coke Awards". The Geological Society. 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  25. ^ a b c "Jane Francis – British Antarctic Survey". www.bas.ac.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  26. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N3.
  27. ^ "Jane Francis". Thegazette.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-31.
  28. ^ Abel, Antoinette. "Welcome back, Professor Dame Jane Francis". Retrieved 2017-12-13.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Melvyn Bragg
Chancellor of the University of Leeds