Strathclyde engineer honoured for contribution to Science with Fletcher of Saltoun Award

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Zoe Shipton, Professor of Geological Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Strathclyde, is the recipient of the annual Fletcher of Saltoun Award for Science.

 The prestigious award is given in recognition of an outstanding contribution to Scotland's life and culture by The Saltire Society and involve nominations from national and international membership, a panel of experts who shortlist, with the final decision made by the Council.

 Professor Shipton was nominated by a number of members and the culture organisation’s Council was unanimous in their support for the award noting her ‘exceptional contribution.’

 Professor Shipton said: “I am delighted to receive this award, and slightly star-struck by the calibre of the other award winners.

“I am particularly delighted to see that the nomination mentions that the work I do is part of a team. Achieving the large-scale changes in our energy system and society that are needed to meet - and ideally exceed - our net zero targets requires close collaboration between academia, industry, government and civil society across a very wide range of disciplines.

“My work has been supported by excellent researchers and colleagues from across science, engineering, social science disciplines and end-users from a wide range of applications.

“Without this partnership approach I could not have achieved the research and research outcomes honoured in this award, so I consider this as an award for the team.”

The charity announced a total of five recipients of this year’s Awards. Dr Scilla Elworthy, three times Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her work with Oxford Research Group and Great Tapestry of Scotland designer Andrew Crummy received awards for Public Life. Actor Maureen Beattie and poet Rab Wilson received awards for Arts & Humanities.  

Cultural landscape

Established in 1988, the Awards recognise and celebrate the innovators and entrepreneurs who shape the cultural landscape of Scotland in the fields of Science, Arts & Humanities and Public Life.  Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1655-1716) was an accomplished patriotic Scots writer, politician, soldier, Commissioner of the Old Parliament of Scotland and an innovative thinker and intellectual visionary.   Previous recipients include Professor Sir Ian Boyd, John Byrne, Dame Evelyn Glennie and Professor Devi Sridhar.

Sarah Mason, Executive Director of the Saltire Society, said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the innovators and Authorities in their fields we have in Scotland, and to recognise the impact they have. Since 1936 the Society has worked tirelessly to ensure Scottish culture is recognised, lived and fought for.  The 35 years the Fletcher Awards have been running has seen over 60 people recognised and we are pleased to see five more exceptional people celebrated in 2023.”

Geological understanding

Professor Shipton’s research focuses on applying geological understanding to engineering the subsurface: for instance in geothermal energy, energy storage and geological carbon storage. She, together with colleagues from academia and industry across Scotland, is exploring the use of abandoned and flooded coal mines in Scotland for geothermal heat extraction and energy storage, for use in domestic and industrial heating and to also generate jobs and income.

 The Professor also works on a wide range of topics such as novel engineering technology for deep geothermal energy, perception of risk, and minimising greenhouse gas emissions from geological engineering.