Polar Medal Awarded to Professor Ian Boyd
Congratulations to marine ecologist Professor Ian Boyd FRSB FRSE, former director of the University of St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit who was awarded the Polar Medal in January 2017. The Polar Medal is a special award made by Her Majesty the Queen to acknowledge valued service given in the Polar Regions.
Professor Boyd worked with the British Antarctic Survey from 1987 to 2001 spending twelve summer seasons in Antarctica. His work there focused on the ecology of seals around South Georgia. There he studied the structure and dynamics of the Southern Ocean from the perspective of top predators. At times this involved using the hi-tech equivalent of contemporary ‘Fit-Bits’, implanted safely under the skin of seals, penguins and albatrosses to find out more about the metabolism and energy use of these hardy species.
Ian remains modest about the distinction, suggesting that as - back in the 1980s - a short-wave family communications ration meant that only 30 words/month “back home” were permitted, perhaps those truly deserving of a medal are the partners and families of those who vanished to the southern ends of the Earth for protracted periods in the name of science.
Professor Boyd now works as Chief Science Advisor at the Department for Environmental and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), “My passion for science in Antarctica was largely driven by the idea that it was a place where people had little influence” he says, “At DEFRA it is all about people, managing their expectations and building better ways of living so that places like Antarctica – and the people of the planet – might survive.”
Professor Ailsa Hall, current Director of the Sea Mammal Research Unit said “We are thrilled that Professor Boyd has been recognized for his achievements in this way, it is a well deserved honour”.