Challenger Medallist

Prof. Karen Heywood (University of East Anglia)

The Challenger Society Council are very pleased to announce that the Challenger Medal for 2016 is awarded to Karen Heywood. The award is in recognition of her major contribution to physical oceanography both in the UK and worldwide; particularly for her contribution to understanding physical oceanographic processes in the Antarctic, for her work in applying novel techniques to understanding ocean processes and for her wider work in developing UK marine science, particularly within SCOR (Scientific Committee for Oceanographic Research). Karen started her academic career with a BSc in Physics at Bristol followed by a Physical Oceanography CASE PhD student with Neil Wells (Southampton) and Raymond Pollard (at the then Institute of Oceanographic Sciences) looking at mixed layer heat budgets. Following this Karen undertook a postdoc position at Bangor, working with Des Barton on eddies caused by flow around the Indian Ocean island of Aldabra. In 1989 Karen arrived at the UEA for a lectureship in physical oceanography and was awarded a professorship in 2005, when she became the first female professor of oceanography in the UK! Since then Karen has trained more than 35 PhD students in a personal mission to increase the amount of observational oceanographers in the UK.

During the 1990s Karen was heavily involved in the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), serving as Chief Scientist of the A23 WOCE hydrographic section from Antarctica to Brazil in 1995. This sparked a lasting interest in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean water masses and formation processes, and Karen has since led several projects in polar regions developing and maintaining a close collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey team.

Karen has led the field in using autonomous underwater gliders and is currently leading the UEA Seaglider group as well as providing community leadership in observational oceanography and autonomous ocean observing.