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Professor John Ludden CBE is Bicentennial Research Professor at Heriot Watt University, following 13 years as Executive Director of the British Geological Survey. Drawing on his extensive experience as an international leader in the earth and environment sector, this Professorship focusses on science governance and diplomacy, with a remit to develop links across disciplines and to strengthen communication with the public and policy makers.

Working within the Lyell Centre  http://www.lyellcentre.ac.uk/ and associated with the Institute for Geoenergy Engineering (IGE), John is also developing a world-class energy testbed in Krafla Iceland at the interface of molten rock within the earth’s crust.

John builds on his numerous science leadership posts in the UK, France and Canada in the Earth and Environmental sector with a focus on resource development. He has worked as a professor and research scientist at the French National Research Centre (CNRS), where he was its associate director for Earth Sciences, at the University of Montreal, Columbia University and with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the USA.

Experienced in the academic sector, he holds a doctorate from the University of Manchester, UK and numerous visiting and honorary professor posts in UK and European Universities. He is a member of Academia Europaea, Foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and past president of the European Geosciences Union and the EuroGeosurvey Organisation. In 2016, he was awarded a CBE for Service to Geoscience.

Serving on and chairing boards in government, academia and industry in the earth, environment and energy sector, he brings a unique expertise in governance. Using all of his experience, he seeks to engender a cultural shift towards a more solutions-based approach at the interface of environmental, engineering and social science that responds to urgent global problems.


Research interests

Science Strategy, Diplomacy and governance

Earth evolution science

Geo-energy Science

International Capacity Building (French speaker)

Research interests

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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