This Thursday (11 February) is the UN International Day of Women & Girls in Science. We will be celebrating this all week by showcasing the work and achievements of women at the forefront of their careers in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) on our social media and Dynamic Earth Online. And, where better to start than with a success story of our very own?!
Here at Dynamic Earth we began 2021 with some very exciting news - our Scientific Director, Dr Hermione Cockburn, has been awarded with an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List. The New Year Honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom and included 1,239 recipients, across all four nations, from many different backgrounds.
Hermione has been recognised for her exceptional work in services to public engagement in science, and we could not be more delighted for her. This is a huge honour and will be celebrated at a special ceremony later this year (Covid permitting of course - it may end up being a Zoom meeting with the Queen!).
Originally hailing from Sussex, Hermione moved to Edinburgh to study, and eventually took up the position as Scientific Director of Dynamic Earth in 2014. Up until this point, she had worked in a mix of academic and science engagement roles (including a brief stint at Dynamic Earth when it very first opened back in 1999!) Her career has taken her all over the world - she has worked in Australia, Africa, North & South America and even in Antarctica researching landscape evolution at the macro-scale. She also taught Environmental Science for the Open University for many years and has contributed to a large number of science festivals and school engagement programmes. Hermione is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
You may also have seen or heard Hermione on the TV or radio! She has presented many programmes for the BBC including series like “Coast”, “Rough Science” and “The Nature of Britain” and Radio 4 documentaries, covering a wide range of subjects from lead pollution to laser technology Hermione has even been lucky enough to interview her hero, Sir David Attenburgh, about his love of fossils for the TV show “Fossil Detectives”!
We spoke to Hermione about her life and work, and of course, how she feels about being the first OBE at DE!
“Overall my career to date has been about trying to inspire people of all backgrounds and all ages with Earth and environmental science within a wider STEM engagement context. My vision for Dynamic Earth is for us to inspire people with the Earth’s story and for this to help create a sustainable future for humanity and our planet."
Hermione adds, “I’ve been very lucky to have worked with prestigious scientists and wonderful communicators over the years, including my inspirational predecessor at Dynamic Earth, Professor Stuart Monro. He has been such a positive influence on my career and I could never have received this honour without the help or the support of my many wonderful colleagues. Receiving an OBE was an incredible surprise! I am so pleased that it was “for services to public engagement in science” as it feels like recognition of this whole field, not just for me but for everyone who strives to make science accessible and meaningful. No news yet on the ceremony…but I am looking forward to it!”
Our desire to communicate and share our knowledge of the world around us is at the heart of what we do here at Dynamic Earth. We convey this in so many different ways besides the attraction itself - at the moment, all mainly online! We hope to inspire engagement and enthusiasm for all things science among people from every walk of life, and it is amazing that our very own Scientific Director has been recognised for the crucial role she plays in this. Congratulations Hermione, we are all incredibly proud!