Jane Plant

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Jane Anne Plant
Born(1945-02-01)1 February 1945
Died4 March 2016(2016-03-04) (aged 71)
Scientific career
Example of a map created by the G-BASE This map is based on analysis of 1154 shallow (0.05 – 0.25 m) soil samples collected at varying densities.

Jane Anne Plant CBE, FREng, FRSE, FRSA was a leading geochemist, scientist, and author. Plant was a pioneer in the field of geochemical surveys and environmental surveys.[1] She was Chief Scientist at the British Geological Survey and was a Professor of Geochemistry at Imperial College London. Plant was also highly involved in the Institution of Mining & Metallurgy (now Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) where she was involved in many aspects including a role on the Council, and was the first female President of the Institution of Mining & Metallurgy, a post she held from 2001 to 2002. This gave her an extensive network of key connections with government, industry and academia.

Plant was diagnosed with cancer several times and studied the link between diet and breast cancer. She published several books on the subject.[2]

Plant was appointed a CBE in 1997 in recognition of her contribution to Earth science and industry. She was a British Geological Survey scientist until her retirement from the role of Chief Scientist in 2005. Plant was Emeritus Professor of Geochemistry at Imperial College until her death on 4 March 2016.[3]

Early Life[edit]

Plant was born in Woodville, Derbyshire, the only child of Ralph and Marjorie (née Langton) Lunn who were village shopkeepers. She attended at Ashby de la Zouche Grammar School from where she went to Liverpool University in 1963. She graduated with first class honours in geology and took the prize for the best degree in her year.[4]


Plant spent most of her career at the British Geological Survey (BGS), and is credited for establishing the ‘Environment and Health’ as significant research. She joined the Institute for Geological Sciences (former name of BGS) in 1967, at the age of 23. There, she led the geochemical reconnaissance programme mapping the presence of elements in Scottish Highlands.[5] She was the first woman to be appointed to a Scientific Officer role[1] rather than in a technical or supporting grade.

She was assigned to the Atomic Energy Section in London, led by Stanley Bowie.[6] She developed methods for a regional geochemical survey in the north of Scotland and was awarded a PhD in 1977 from the University of Leicester for her thesis "Regional Geochemical mapping in Great Britain with particular reference to sources of error".[7]

Plant developed the high-resolution BGS Geochemical Baseline of the Environment (G-BASE) programme to map different chemicals over the land surface by analyzing sediments, ore deposits, soils and water samples. The programme began to broaden and created a geochemical database, which could be applied to economic, health and environmental issues.[4] She applied her maps to health and her findings helped create the field of environmental health, specifically researching Asian and Africa, and was able to study a correlation between a lack of available selenium and heart disease in China.[1]

Her personal influence on the research community was great. After getting her PhD in 1977, she received a special merit promotion in 1983. Along with numerous awards, she was also a member of Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (1999-2005). Her achievements were recognized by her peers with many awards.[4]

Her research in the environmental geochemical field became more personal in 1993 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the sixth time. She noticed the low cancer rate among Chinese women and discovered a correlation between cancer rate and dairy consumption.[6] Her research led to many of the protocols used in today's geochemical mapping projects worldwide.[5] Plant's methods have also been adapted and adopted around the world as a standard for geochemical surveys.


Along with writing books, Plant took part and co-wrote many scientific reports and papers. One examined the geological problems from the geochemical maps based on sediment samples and found that in the Northern Highlands, the regional variations are related to the position of the basement slices. These are attributed to the lateral variations in sediment composition.[8] Plant found that there are three belts of alpine type ultramafic rocks in the Scottish Highlands. Each of these rocks are associated with a change of sedimentation and structural style.[9]

A more recent article, looked at the relationship between synthetic chemicals and increased pollution in the environment and the impact on both humans and the Earth's ecosystems. An emphasis is placed on the risk perception of radioactivity in society, which is found to be quite dangerous.[10] Plant's article also advocates for the expansion of processes like “biomimicry” and green chemistry to attempt to reduce waste and impact on the environment.[10] She believed the pollution and degradation caused by the population pressure pose a threat to the sustainability of the Earth.



  • Beat Cancer: How to Regain Control of Your Health and Your Life by Mustafa Djamgoz and Jane A. Plant (2014)
  • Pollutants, Human health, and the Environment edited by Jane Plant, Nick Voulvoulis, and K. Vala Ragnarsdottir (2012)
  • Beating Stress, Anxiety, and Depression by Jane Plant and Janet Stephenson (2008)
  • Eating for Better Health: The Plant Programme by Jane Plant and Gill Tidey (2005)
  • Prostate Cancer – Understand, Prevent And Overcome by Jane Plant (2004)
  • Understanding, Preventing And Overcoming Osteoporosis by Jane Plant and Gill Tidey (2003)
  • The Plant Programme by Jane Plant and Gill Tidey (2001)
  • Your Life In Your Hands – Understanding, Preventing And Overcoming Breast Cancer by Jane Plant (2000)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Valsami-Jones, Eugenia (2 January 2018). "Jane Plant (1945–2016)". Mineralogical Magazine. 80 (6): 1145–1147. doi:10.1180/minmag.2016.080.142.
  2. ^ Hicks, Cherrill (2 June 2014). "Give up dairy products to beat cancer". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Professor Jane Plant CBE 1945–2016". British Geological Survey. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "The Geological Society of London - Jane Ann Simpson (Professor Jane Plant, 1945-2016)". www.geolsoc.org.uk. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Jane Plant | Association of Applied Geochemists". www.appliedgeochemists.org. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b Mather, John. "Jane Ann Simpson (Professor Jane Plant, 1945–2016)". The Geological Society. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Professor Jane Plant". University of Leicester. 7 April 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  8. ^ Johnstone, G. S.; Plant, Jane; Watson, Janet V. (1979). "Regional geochemistry of the Northern Highlands of Scotland". Geological Society, London, Special Publications. 8 (1): 117–128. Bibcode:1979GSLSP...8..117J. doi:10.1144/gsl.sp.1979.008.01.10.
  9. ^ Garson, M. S.; Plant, Jane (March 1973). "Alpine Type Ultramafic Rocks and Episodic Mountain Building in the Scottish Highland⋅". Nature Physical Science. 242 (116): 34–38. Bibcode:1973NPhS..242...34G. doi:10.1038/physci242034a0.
  10. ^ a b Plant, Jane A; Bone, James; Ragnarsdottir, Kristin Vala; Voulvoulis, Nickalaos (June 2011). "Pollutants, human health and the environment – A risk-based approach". Applied Geochemistry. 26: S238–S240. Bibcode:2011ApGC...26S.238P. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2011.03.113.
  11. ^ "Honours". JanePlant.com. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2016.