Imperial in the news: The Life Scientific

It is not every day that you turn on the radio and get to hear one of your colleagues talking about their career over the airwaves while you eat your corn flakes. But then, it is pretty rare that one of your colleagues is a Fellow of the Royal Society, President of the Royal Meteorological Society, sat on the International Panel for Climate Change and has a CBE for services to atmospheric physics.

Professor Jo Haigh has been Head of Physics at Imperial since 2009

Imperial’s Head of Physics, Professor Jo Haigh, was interviewed by Professor Jim Al-Khalili for BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific, a This is Your Life-style programme for scientists and researchers who have shaped their fields and influenced society.

Jo discussed her research around climate change and in finding evidence and enhancing understanding for global warming. In the mid-1990s her work on solar radiation, in particular the effect our Sun has on the temperature of the lower atmosphere, was published in Nature and Science – two of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world.

In addition to her various academic roles, Jo’s colleagues also talked about her leadership and the influence she has had on their work. Jo also spoke about her experiences discussing climate science with people who hold some strong, and occasionally opposing, views.

Jo strongly believes in a culture of openness, public engagement and education around the topic of climate science. “To present climate in separation from discussion of any of the changes that are going on seems silly. In addition to this, most children are aware of climate change. If they’re not being taught about it in science or geography then what are they going to think?”

When asked about whether she would trade in a career as a climate scientist in preference of cosmology or something perhaps less controversial, Jo said: “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done, I’d hope to carry on doing it a bit longer and no, I don’t want to change.”


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