What inspires me about Mary is her drive, her energy and her commitment to both her research and her students. In my experience, many academics forge a successful research career at the expense of their student-facing work and their contribution as ‘good citizens’ to the University. Mary is a fantastic example of somebody who has made the commitment to excel in all aspects of her role and I feel that she embodies the type of academic that all academics should aspire to be:
Mary is a founding member of the University’s world-leading climate change research groups and has an international reputation for her research which explores how environmental change impacts on our planet’s forests. Her publication record includes leading journals and her research is included in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She has been invited to contribute to international panels such as the Past Global Changes initiative and worked with the charity VSO to establish their climate change strategy. As a National Geographic grant holder, she was selected to be photographed by Emmy Award winning photographer Marco Grobb for National Geographic’s Risk Takers project. In short, Mary is doing research that is truly making an international impact on the lives of people around the world.
As an early adopter of Swansea’s employability agenda and Geography’s employability tutor, Mary developed, and continues to lead, a work placement module for Geography students which was the first programme at the University to integrate the Swansea Employability Award and has allowed her students to gain valuable work experience and skills.
In addition to the above, Mary has made significant administrative contributions: for many years she was the Geography Department’s Admissions Tutor and she continues to support its admissions and recruitment activities. She is currently Programme Director for the College of Science’s undergraduate foundation programme which, under her aegis, has almost doubled in size (growing from 124 students to 218 students) and has helped to transform the College’s recruitment and admissions environment.
Last, but by no means least, is Mary’s commitment to widening participation: she established and continues to lead the College of Science’s outreach programme, S4 (the Swansea Science for Schools Scheme), now in its 4th year. This provides innovative and dynamic STEM workshops and summer schools to hard-to-reach pupils throughout South Wales and Mary has repeatedly secured Welsh Government funding for this programme amounting to £342,000.