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Leading polar expert visits Wellington


12 August 2013

Leading polar expert visits Wellington

Victoria University of Wellington is hosting one of the world’s leading polar scientists this week to give the 2013 S.T. Lee Lecture in Antarctic Studies.

Professor Jane Francis is in Wellington to give the eleventh annual lecture. She is Professor of Palaeoclimatology and Dean of the Faculty of Environment at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

The S.T. Lee Lecture is organised by Victoria’s Antarctic Research Centre each year, and delivered by internationally-renowned guest speakers who share their expertise with staff, students and others interested in Antarctic research.

Professor Francis is Chair of the United Kingdom’s National Committee for Antarctic Research and, in October, takes up one of the most influential Antarctic research positions as Director of the British Antarctic Survey.

She has undertaken around 20 scientific expeditions to the polar regions and her career has included a number of prestigious awards and positions. These include the British Polar Medal in 2002, Presidency of the Palaeontological Association, and Chair of the United Kingdom’s National Committee for Antarctic Research.

A geologist by training, Professor Francis’ research specialism is in the study of fossil plants, especially woods, and their use as tools for climate interpretation and information about past biodiversity. Current projects focus on understanding past climate change during both greenhouse and icehouse periods, particularly in the polar regions.

In her lecture on Thursday, Professor Francis will describe the climate of Antarctica as it was millions of years ago, when much warmer, humid conditions supported a wide range of plant species including beech forests, which existed close to the South Pole. She will address the question: “Will Antarctica become green again as the climate warms?”

Event details:
11th Annual S.T. Lee Lecture in Antarctic Studies
Professor Jane Francis, ‘When Antarctica was green: fossil plants reveal Antarctica’s climate history’
Thursday 15 August 2013, Lecture 5.30pm–6.30pm, followed by a reception
Hunter Council Chamber, Victoria University Kelburn Campus
To attend, rsvp to Michelle Dow at 04-463-6587 or email


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