Dr Joanne Johnson

Dr Joanne Johnson was recently awarded the prestigious Polar Medal by HM the King in the 2023 New Year’s Honours. She was a pupil at KEHS from 1988-1995, and went on to study Geology at Durham University and a PhD at Cambridge, before getting her first (and only!) job at British Antarctic Survey. She has worked there as a geologist for 20 years, undertaking seven field seasons in Antarctica. She specialises in using geochemical techniques to reconstruct the past thickness and extent of the Antarctic ice sheet. Understanding how the size and shape of the ice sheet has changed through time is critical for ground-truthing models that will help to predict how fast the Antarctic ice sheet will contribute to sea level rise across the world in future centuries. Although Joanne has worked in several regions of Antarctica, she has become most familiar with the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, having undertaken multiple field campaigns there since 2006. She also has a mountain in Antarctica named after her, in recognition of her scientific work: Johnson Mesa on James Ross Island. As well as leading various research projects, Joanne enjoys educating others about Antarctica, and was a scientific consultant for the Usborne children’s book “24 hours in Antarctica”, published in November 2022.Joanne balances her passion for Antarctic research with looking after her two school-age children. She has worked part-time for the past 13 years, and hopes that through receiving this award, she will be an inspiration to others contemplating combining parenthood and a career in research. If you are interested to find out more about her work and more information about the history of the Polar Medal, you can follow her twitter: [weblink: https://twitter.com/geologicaljo].
Photo credits: Jo’s portrait, Jo on a cliff and Jo eating lunch – Tom King; Christmas Day sledging – Jo Johnson


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