Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

COP26 – Face the Facts

Meet some of Scotland’s leading climate researchers talking about their work in the lead up to the UN Climate Change Conference COP26.

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties COP26 in Glasgow on 1 – 12 November 2021. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scottish Science Advisory Council and Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society, are collaborating to help highlight Scottish research and science and its contribution to understanding and tackling climate change. A broad range of researchers and practitioners in Scotland whose work relates to the Earth’s climate are being interviewed and we will publish new videos every month in the lead up to COP26.

November 2021

Video 24 – Dr Rachel Helliwell

Dr Rachel Helliwell manages the Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) and is responsible for identifying, prioritising and coordinating water research to meet contemporary and future policy needs and knowledge gaps identified by Scottish Government and relevant public bodies (Scottish Water, SEPA, DWQR, NatureScot, etc.).

Prior to taking on the role of CREW manager, Rachel established the Hydro Nation International programme and had a successful academic career working as a catchment modeller, investigating the interactions between landscapes, their management and the resulting impacts on water quality and quantity.

Video 23 – Professor Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson is Professor of Zoology within the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences. He is Director of the University’s Lighthouse Field Station, where he undertakes research on the effects of environmental change on marine mammal and seabird populations.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and has worked widely with government and industry bodies to support the sustainable development of marine renewable energy developments in Scottish waters.

October 2021

Video 22 – Dr Ana Payo Payo

Dr Ana Payo Payo is a Research Fellow within the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences. Her research focuses on understanding the effects of environmental change on marine top predators and providing evidence to inform energy transition.

Video 21 – Professor Jim Skea

Jim Skea is Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London with research interests in energy, climate change and technological innovation. His current main role is as Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III for the 6th assessment cycle. He was Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre 2004-12 and Director of the Policy Studies Institute 1998-2004.

He has operated at the interface between research, policy-making and business throughout his career. He was a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change from its inception in 2008 until 2018, and is currently the Chair of Scotland’s Just Transition Commission. From 2015-17, he was President of the UK Energy Institute. He was awarded a CBE for services to sustainable energy in 2013 and an OBE for services to sustainable transport in 2004.

September 2021

Video 20 – Professor Wayne Powell

Professor Wayne Powell is Principal and Chief Executive of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). His personal research interests are at the interface of plant genetics, genome science, plant breeding and conservation of genetic resources with a strong emphasis on the delivery of ‘public good’ outcomes. He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Video 19 – Professor Louise Horsfall

Louise Horsfall, Chair of Sustainable Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh, is interested in applying synthetic biology to improve the sustainability of biological processes and products. She is the elected co-chair of the Bioengineering and Bioprocessing Section of the European Federation of Biotechnology, a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy of Scotland, the Science for Sustainability theme lead at the University of Edinburgh and was the recipient of the University’s 2015 Chancellor’s Rising Star Award. Louise was awarded a 5-year Fellowship in Engineering for Sustainability and Resilience by the EPSRC in 2017 and has been investigating the recycling and reuse of lithium ion batteries from electric vehicles with the Faraday Institution since 2018.

August 2021

Video 18 – Dr Rebecca Wade

Dr Rebecca Wade is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science at Abertay University in Dundee. Her research links blue/green infrastructure with society. She applies geoscience, engineering, and ecological knowledge to enhance the multiple benefits that can be gained for people and nature as we address climate change and biodiversity loss. She is Landscape theme co-leader at SAGES (the Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environmental and Society).

Video 17 – Professor Andy Kerr

Andy leads EIT Climate-KIC – Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership – in the UK and Ireland. Previously, Andy was the founding director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI(link is external)) – a leading low carbon innovation centre in Scotland – and co-directed ClimateXChange, which provided evidence and analysis to support Scottish Government policy development. Earlier in his career, Andy worked in business, developing renewable energy projects and trading carbon and green fuels in Europe and Asia. Andy is an Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh and has a PhD in climate change.

July 2021

Video 16 – Dr Heidi Burdett

Heidi Burdett is an Associate Professor of marine biology in the Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University, with expertise in coastal ecosystem function and the impact of human interaction (including climate change).

Working with policymakers and charities, she uses this scientific understanding to improve conservation and management decisions to better protect these valuable ecosystems for future generations. She is also an Academic Lead for Public Engagement at Heriot-Watt, and a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.

Video 15 – Professor Gabi Hegerl FRSE

Gabi Hegerl is a professor of climate system science at the University of Edinburgh. She is a climate scientist who focuses on identifying the drivers and mechanisms of observed climate change.

Gabi has been strongly involved in scientific assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is a fellow of the Royal Society, the American Geophysical Union, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and received the Hans Sigrist Prize awarded by Bern University.

June 2021

Video 14 – Dr Ehsan Jorat

Dr Ehsan Jorat is a senior lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering at Abertay University and Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environmental and Society (SAGES) research and innovation committee member and co-lead for Carbon and Biogeochemical Cycles theme. As a geotechnical engineer with experience in both industry and academia, he focused his practice on introducing engineering solutions for environmental challenges. Ehsan has been leading research on incorporating inorganic carbon sequestration function into urban and agricultural soils as a mechanism for carbon sequestration.

Video 13 – Professor Elise Cartmell FRSE

Elise Cartmell is the Chief Scientist at Scottish Water responsible for Research and Innovation, Management Systems and Scientific Services. Elise joined Scottish Water in April 2016 following a career in academia at Cranfield University where she was Professor of Water Technology and Director of Environmental Technology. Here she specialised in wastewater treatment with particular reference to trace contaminants, anaerobic processes and community sanitation. Prior to joining Cranfield in 2000, she was a research scientist at WRc plc. Elise is a chemist with a BSc (Hons) from The University of Edinburgh and a PhD from Imperial College, London. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

May 2021

Video 12 – Professor Sandy Tudhope

Sandy Tudhope is Professor of Climate Studies and the University of Edinburgh’s Lead on Climate Responsibility and Sustainability. He is also Co-Director of the Edinburgh Ocean Leaders Programme (, a new initiative designed to support the leadership of exceptional early-mid-career ocean professionals working on solutions for the oceans.

Sandy’s research focuses on the nature and drivers of tropical climate variability and change and their impact on corals, coral reefs and coastal communities. The geographical foci of his research include the tropical Pacific from Papua New Guinea in the west to the Galapagos in the east; and Madagascar, Maldives and Thailand in the Indian Ocean. He was Head of School of GeoSciences for six years, was a member of University Court for three years, and is now a member of the University’s Executive. He is helping lead on the University’s engagement with COP26.

Video 11 – Dr Kirsten Jenkins

Dr Kirsten Jenkins is an early career Lecturer in Energy, Environment and Society within the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) group of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

She is Programme Director for the cross-college Energy, Society and Sustainability MSc programme, which is run in partnership with the School of Geosciences. She serves as Managing Editor for the journal Energy Research & Social Science and associate fellow of the Durham Energy Institute at the University of Durham.

April 2021

Video 10 – Professor Pete Smith

Pete Smith is Professor of Soils and Global Change at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland, UK) and Science Director of the Scottish Climate Change Centre of Expertise (ClimateXChange). His interests include climate change mitigation, soils, agriculture, food systems, ecosystem services and modelling.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the Institute of Soil Scientists, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, a Fellow of the European Science Academy, and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London).

Video 9 – Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer FRSE

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer FRSE, FIChemE, FRSC, FRSA, FEI is Associate Principal (Global Sustainability) and Director of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS) at Heriot-Watt University. Mercedes is leading the development of the UK Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) to accelerate the decarbonisation of industrial clusters.

March 2021

Video 8 – Dr Thomas Farrugia

Dr Thomas Farrugia is Founder and CEO of Beta Bugs Limited, the insect genetics company, which he established in 2017. The company, headquartered at Easter Bush Campus, develops and distributes high-performance breeds of Black Soldier Fly for the insects-as-feed industry.

Video 7 – Dr Roxane Andersen

Dr Roxane Andersen is a Senior Research Fellow leading peatland research at the University of the Highlands and Islands from the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, Scotland. As a member of Scotland’s National Peatland Group, Dr Andersen also supports the implementation of Scotland’s National Peatland Plan and its ambition to restore and protect peatlands for future generations.

February 2021

Video 6 – Dr Daniel Barreto

Dr Daniel Barreto is a Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University. He is also the Head of the Research Centre for Civil Engineering and a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland. He completed his first degree in Civil Engineering at Universidad de los Andes (Colombia) in 2003.

Video 5 – Dr Lorna Dawson CBE, FRSE, FRSA

Professor Lorna Dawson is Head of the Soil Forensics Group within the Environmental and Biochemical Sciences group at the James Hutton Institute and honorary professor in Forensic Science at Robert Gordon University, and is SEFARI Advisor on the Scottish Government‘s (RESAS) strategic research programme 2016-2021.

January 2021

Video 4 – Dr Hermione Cockburn OBE FRSE FRSGS

Hermione is Scientific Director at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh’s science centre dedicated to environmental science. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

Video 3 – Dr Leslie Mabon

Dr Leslie Mabon is a Senior Lecturer in Social Science at the Scottish Association for Marine Science-University of the Highlands and Islands. He is a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland, and a Future Earth Coasts Fellow.

December 2020

Video 2 – Dr Sandro Carnicelli

Dr Sandro Carnicelli is the Marketing, Events and Tourism Unit Leader at the University of the West of Scotland, UK and is a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland (YAS).

Video 1 – Professor E Marian Scott OBE FRSE

Marian is Professor of Environmental Statistics in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Glasgow; an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), a chartered statistician of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and a member of the SSAC.

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