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History and past recipients of the medals and awards
2017 medals and awards

2011 medals and awards

Founder's Medal and Patron's MedalSince 1832, our prestigious medals and awards have recognised excellence in geographical research and fieldwork, teaching and public engagement.

They are presented annually in recognition of those who have made outstanding achievements.

Presentation of the Royal Medals and other Awards of the Society took place during the Society's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 6 June 2011, at the Society in central London.

Royal Medals

Her Majesty The Queen has approved the award of the Royal Medals as follows:

Founder's Medal

  • Professor David Livingstone OBE ‘for the encouragement and promotion of historical geography’.

Professor of Geography & Intellectual History at Queen’s University Belfast, David has revolutionised the understanding of the discipline’s history and its intellectual context. His books, including The Geographical Tradition, have become part of the discipline’s intellectual backbone. His current work explores historic influences of climate and climate change on the human condition and recently featured in a week-long BBC Radio 4 series. David has been recognised on many occasions for his contributions, by the British Academy and the Royal Irish Academy.

Patron's Medal

  • Dr Sylvia Earle ‘for the encouragement, development and promotion of ocean science and exploration’

Sylvia has advanced geographical science by raising awareness of the world’s vast and unknown oceans. A world renowned ocean scientist, she has led numerous expeditions, held distinguished scientific appointments and served in key roles in leading international conservation and exploration boards, foundations and committees. Sylvia has authored over 150 scientific, technical and popular publications, lectured in more than 60 countries, and appeared in hundreds of television productions. She has been named ‘Her Deepness’ by the New Yorker and the New York Times, and a ‘Living Legend’ by the Library of Congress.

Society Council awards

The Society's Council has made the following awards:

Victoria Medal

  • Professor John Lowe 'for research in Quaternary Science’

John is one of the founders of modern Quaternary science and has made fundamental contributions to understandings of past European climates. In recent years he has also championed the use of volcanic ash in assessing the age of sediments, and has led large collaborative projects on the response of humans to abrupt environmental change. John is Gordon Manley Professor of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, and has been President of the UK Quaternary Research Association and Vice President of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA).

Busk Medal

  • Professor Lewis Owen ‘for field research in palaeoenvironmental history and geomorphology in tectonically active areas’

Professor at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, Lewis has contributed substantially to many facets of physical geography. The work for which he is recognised is his advanced field research in inaccessible places: in the Himalayas, the Andes in Argentina, the Alaska Range, and the Red Sea margin in Yemen. Using remote sensing, field mapping and dating of landforms and sediments, his work has given new insights into large-scale landform development and the relations between tectonics, climate and the earth’s surface processes.

Cherry Kearton Medal and Award

  • Dale Templar ‘for natural history photography and cinematography’

Dale has worked at the BBC as a producer and director for over 20 years including most recently as series producer of the highly acclaimed Human Planet. Dale’s professional career – in journalism, cinematography and documentary film production – has allowed her to lead teams of experts, gaining privileged access to many of the world’s more remote regions. Productions she has worked on have captured the amazing diversity of the world’s environments, with stories and insights of how humans have learned to live in every habitat.

Murchison Award

  • Professor Stuart Elden ‘for publications in political geography’

Stuart is one of the world leading scholars working at the intersection of political theory and political geography and Professor of political geography at Durham University. His 2009 book Terror and Territory: the Spatial Extent of Sovereignty, for which he is recognised, contests the idea that in the era of globalisation territory no longer matters. His work achieves a distinguished combination of breadth and depth, underpinned by erudite and detailed analyses of texts read in their original languages.

Back Award

  • Professor Edmund Penning-Rowsell OBE ‘for research contributing to national and international flood policy’

Edmund pioneered computer-based ways of simulating flood damage and losses, working often in innovative partnerships with government. This work has developed progressively and has underpinned almost every government decision with respect to flood defence investment over the last 30 years. Through the team he built up at the Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University, his work has been extended to all aspects of flood policy, including flood warning and the wider social and emotional aspects of flood events.

Cuthbert Peek Award

  • Professor Martin Wooster ‘for innovation in applying earth observation science to monitor fires in the landscape’

Martin, Professor at King’s College London, has established himself as an international leader in the use of remote sensing, particularly infrared methods, to detect the presence of large scale fires and to measure their emissions of smoke, aerosols and greenhouse gases. This has important implications for understanding the consequences of deforestation and its impact on the atmosphere and human health and well-being. Much of Martin’s work has been conducted through internationally collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.

Gill Memorial Award

  • Dr Peter Hopkins ‘for contributions to geographies of youth, religion and race’

Peter is an outstanding geographer who has achieved more than many at much later stages in their careers. A prolific author, his research on the geographies of youth, religion and race has already had significant impact. His work with young Muslim men, for example, broke new ground in the ways it challenged traditional identities. His recent book Young People, Place and Identity will undoubtedly become a benchmark for those working with young people. Peter is Senior Lecturer in Social Geography at Newcastle University. 

Ordnance Survey Awards (two awards)

  • Robert Lang and Ruth Ware ‘for excellence in teaching geography at
    secondary level’

Robert Lang is a geography teacher at King Edward VI Five Ways School in Birmingham. A Chartered Geographer (Teacher), he has contributed to the development of a very successful geography department at that school. Bob has actively shared his experiences through the Society’s networks, with the Geographical Association, with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and on Teachers’ TV. Bob has been especially active in the promotion of GIS in the classroom, training teachers to enhance their confidence and abilities.

Ruth Ware, also a Chartered Geographer (Teacher), is Faculty Leader for Creative Environment at Bishop Justus Church of England School in Bromley Kent, where she set up and manages the geography department. At the forefront of implementing creative and innovative teaching and learning methods, Ruth has a particular passion for fieldwork. Ruth has been instrumental in helping the Society develop a teachers’ professional development network in Bromley, supporting the work of other local teachers and trainees in the Borough.

Taylor and Francis Award

  • Sharmila Ray Kumam ‘for excellence in teaching and learning in geography in higher education’

Sharmila is Head of Geography at Loreto College, Kolkata. Loreto College is a beacon of good practice in the teaching of geography in higher education institutions in West Bengal and other parts of India. Under Sharmila’s leadership, the department has had the intellectual courage to engage with new concepts, skills and techniques, transforming the curriculum and the learning experiences of the students. Students learn about the dynamism and application of geography; they develop the skills to think independently and critically; and they are highly sought after by employers.

Ness Award

  • Colin Thubron CBE ‘for popularising geography through travel writing’

Colin is one of the leading travel writers of his generation. His bestselling books, meticulously researched and beautifully written, present a unique and popular chronicle of the world’s most remote regions - of Asia in particular. They portray the lives of the ordinary people Colin encounters; provide detailed geographical and historical descriptions; and give sensitive insights and social commentary. Colin has received many awards throughout his career, testament to his accomplishments as an author.

Alfred Steers Dissertation Prize

  • Flora Hinks 'for the undergraduate geography dissertation judged to be the best in 2010'

Flora’s dissertation, ‘The modification of the urban climate by small parks in Sheffield, UK’, was part of the First Class Honours degree she received from the University of Sheffield. She has always had a keen interest in geography due to its ability to unite physical process and their impacts on humans.

Special awards

Regional Anniversary Awards

In recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the Society’s regional programme, the Society’s Council has approved a number of Regional Anniversary Awards. These awards recognise the distinguished and hard working efforts of the regional committees in creating a programme that has grown from some 10 events in the first year to 85 events in 2010.

  • Chris Brightman from the South West region
  • Kathleen Oldfield from the Cheshire and North Wales region
  • John Russell from the South West region

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