Leading peatland researcher becomes a Professor

A north researcher who is regarded as one of the world’s leading peatland experts has been awarded a professorship from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Professor Roxane Andersen, a senior research fellow at North Highland College UHI’s Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, has been given the title in recognition of her outstanding research activity, her leadership skills and her contribution to education.

Professor Andersen joined the Environmental Research Institute as a research fellow in 2012. Since then, she has helped to secure over £4 million of grant income from a range of funders to develop a comprehensive and collaborative programme of research on peatlands and ecological restoration. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles in academic journals, organised and contributed to numerous international conferences and supervised 13 PhD students. Professor Andersen has also contributed to national and international policy and governance, supporting a bid for Caithness and Sutherland’s Flow County to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and being appointed as chair of Scotland’s National Peatland Monitoring and Research Group in 2018.

Speaking about her new title, Professor Andersen said: “I am truly honoured and I feel incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported me on this journey so far, not least to the whole team at the Environmental Research Institute. I feel privileged to have met many strong, intelligent and amazing women throughout my career who I could look up to. I really hope that, like them, I too can inspire others to follow their passion.”

Professor Todd Walker, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “The title of professor is the highest level of academic achievement which can be awarded. It is reserved for individuals who are recognised as leaders in their field and who have demonstrated excellence in their work. Professor Andersen is a worthy recipient. She has made an invaluable contribution to peatland science and developed an international reputation for her work. She is a credit to our university and I look forward to seeing how her career continues to grow.”

Professor Stuart Gibb is Director of the Environmental Research Institute at North Highland College UHI and is also Chair of the Peatlands Partnership. He said: “In recent years we have seen a shift in scientific understanding peatlands. Their importance in terms of biodiversity, carbon capture and climate change and in the provision of ecosystem services has been re-evaluated and Roxane’s work, particularly in the Flow Country, has been at the heart of this. However, the impact of her work goes beyond science and has helped promote societal appreciation of the global significance of the peatlands we have on our doorstep. This is an excellent example of ‘place-based’ research and its power to connect local communities with international agendas and I am delighted that Roxane has been recognised for this contribution.”

Following the announcement of her new title, Professor Andersen will give a free, public seminar on Wednesday 2 June - World Peatlands Day. The online talk will explore the science of peatlands, touching on subjects including climate change, biodiversity and restoration.