Shackleton Medal // Meet The Chair Of Judges

Swooping above the ice in planes to deploy radar signals, campaigning against mining in reindeer-herding areas, studying organisms that give clues about life on other planets. The judges on the panel for the Shackleton Medal cover the full spectrum of expertise at the poles. Here we introduce the Chair of Judges, Lewis Dartnell.

It’s an uncharacteristically mild February afternoon when we arrive at the Royal Geographical Society to film our chair of judges. The session takes place in the Lowther Room, where history seems to seep out of walls lined with regiments of books about expeditions and geography. Through the windows looking down onto the garden it’s possible to see the Antarctic Hut donated to the RGS by Ranulph Fiennes. Shackleton’s own relationship with the society wasn’t always smooth, yet he was often to be found walking these corridors in his bid to get funding and credibility for his expeditions. 

Professor Lewis Dartnell knows that he has a demanding task ahead of him steering the discussions about who will be the first winner of the Shackleton Medal launched this year. Nominees include oceanographers, glaciologists, pioneers in wildlife observation through satellite and climate advocates.

Dartnell himself is an astrobiologist and Sunday Times bestselling author whose books include The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World After An Apocalypse and Origins: How The Earth Shaped Human History. When we talk about the range of disciplines the judges will be considering he says, ‘This is one of the most hostile environments on the planet. The people who are being nominated for the award are incredibly inspirational. It’s great to be able to celebrate individuals who are exploring and challenging our perception of the poles.’ 

Listen to the full audio below:

Read more about our panel of judges.