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Professor awarded RGS Victoria Medal

Posted on 17/06/2011

Image © RGS-IBG/Howard Sayer

Professor John Lowe, from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London has been awarded the prestigious Victoria Medal by the Royal Geographical Society.

Since 1832, the RGS has annually presented medals and awards in recognition of those individuals who have made outstanding achievements in geographical research and fieldwork, teaching and public engagement.

Professor John Lowe was awarded the 2011 medal in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the research and promotion of Quaternary science. Quaternary is the name given to the most recent period of earth history, covering the last 2.6 million years. It was a period of tumultuous climatic change, including pronounced oscillations between conditions as warm as now, and times when massive ice sheets occupied much of Europe and North America.

It was also the period during which anatomically-modern humans evolved, and came to dominate the world. Our human ancestors learned to cope with the vicissitudes of climate change: indeed, some argue that it was this that prompted Homo sapiens to become so resourceful and intelligent. The Quaternary geological record shows how the subtle and sensitive bonds between humans, climate, environment and landscape have transformed the planet. It provides us with the baseline against which to view the modern state of the planet, and to hypothesise about its future. In helping to refine this baseline, Professor Lowe is currently co-ordinating a major consortium project funded by the NERC, called RESET, which focuses on the evidence for human responses to abrupt environmental change over the last 100,000 years.

Commenting on this recognition, Professor Lowe said: “To receive this medal from a society that has excelled in promoting the exploration and study of the planet since its inception in 1830 is a tremendous honour. It reflects on the importance of inter-disciplinary study and the global overview, which underpins the Geography syllabus. The ceremony itself was delightful, made all the more memorable by the involvement of the current President of the RGS, Michael Palin.”

LINK: Royal Geographical Society Medals and Awards, 2011


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