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MEET A SCIENTIST; Wales has produced an amazing number of world-class scientists working in many different areas. Perhaps one of them went to your school?

Byline: Erica Lewis

Discovery talked to Dianne Edwards, Professor of Paleobotany in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cardiff University, to find out what it's like to work as a scientist in Wales. Her research and teaching has helped increase our understanding of the earliest land plant fossils, and how the earth was colonised by early plant life. Professor Edwards has spent her entire academic career at Cardiff University, starting in 1969, and her research has made her one of the world's leading paleobotanists. In 1996, her recognition as one of the most distinguished scientists in the Commonwealth came about with her election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I was born in Swansea and my family lived on the Gower peninsula. My father influenced my love of nature as he was a great bird watcher and a natural historian - and as a child I was always preparing a 'nature table'. I went to Glanmor County Girls School, where I owe a lot to my former botany teacher, Dr Elizabeth Bremner. She instilled in me a fascination for science - leading me to study Botany, Zoology and Chemistry at A-level. Not many girls went to Cambridge University from my school, but with the encouragement of my teacher, I secured a place at Girton College, Cambridge University.

What type of science do you study?

Paleobotany, which is the study of fossil plants.

What training did you need to do to get a job in science?

After I gained my degree in botany, I remained at Cambridge to study for a postgraduate degree, and I was awarded a PhD in 1967 (an incredibly busy time for me as my son Christopher was born in the same year). My thesis was based on a study of Devonian fossil plants, which survived some 400 million years ago. Wales has some of the best records of Devonian plants and I've spent many days in the Brecon Beacons collecting samples. I have always worked in a University environment - after my PhD I moved to Cardiff Sir Morien Morgan, FRS 1912-1978 Attended Bridgend Primary School, Aberdare Boys' School, and Canton Secondary School, Cardiff. Studied at Cambridge University. His field was aerodynamics.

Professor Phil Williams Born in 1939. Attended Bargoed Junior School and Lewis Boys' School. Studied at Cambridge University. His field is solarterrestrial physics.

Dr Hywel Price Born in 1946. Attended Pontardawe Primary School and Ystalyfera Secondary School. Studied at the University of Wales. His field is nuclear physics and applied science.

Dr Pam Lewis Born in 1930. Attended Llangennech Primary School, Howell's School, and Llanelli Girls School. Studied at the University of Wales. Her field is nuclear magnetic resonance.

Professor J Gareth Jones Born in 1936. Attended Radnor Road Primary School and Canton High School. Studied at the University of Wales. His field is anaesthesia and intensive care.

Handel Davies CB, F Eng Born in 1912. Attended Llwydcoed Primary School, Gadlys Secondary School, and Aberdare Boys' School.

Studied at the University of Wales. His field is aeronautical engineering.

Professor Delme Bowen Born in 1944. Attended Llanedi Primary School and Amman Valley Secondary School. Studied at the University of Wales. His field is cell biology with a particular interest in snails and slugs.

University and have been here ever since.

What does your typical day involve?

The joy of university life is that it's incredibly varied. My work is a combination of teaching, doing research, reading in the library, taking part in committee meetings and also doing fieldwork - in Wales and overseas - looking for fossil plants.

What are you most proud of?

I'd say helping to transform Middleton Hall, in West Wales, into Wales' first botanical gardens. The 568-acre project successfully bid for pounds 20m from the Millennium Commission to develop the site into a major tourist attraction and education, conservation and research centre.

Professor Leonard Maunder Born in 1927. Attended St Thomas Primary School and Swansea Boys' (Bishop Gore) Secondary School.

Studied at the University of Wales. His field is dynamics, especially the gyroscope.

Professor Sir John Cardogan CBE, FRS Born in 1930. Attended Manselton and Brynhyfryd Primary Schools and Swansea Boys' (Bishop Gore) School.

Studied at Kings College, London. His field is organic chemistry and he has been research director for BP. He is the Director General of the Research Councils.

Professor Gwendolen Rees, FRS Born in 1906. Attended Park Primary and Aberdare Girls School. Studied at the University of Wales. Her field was parasitology.

Professor B D Josephson, FRS Born in 1940. Attended Roath Park Primary and Cardiff High School.

Studied at the University of Cambridge.

His field of interest is the relationship between mind and matter.

Sir Ronald Mason, KCB, FRS Born in 1930. Attended Merthyr Vale Primary and Quakers Yard Secondary School. Studied at the University of Why is science interesting?

It's definitely the thrill of discovery. It's also intellectually stimulating.

Have you made any amazing discoveries?

In 1997 my research team discovered fossil clues to the earliest land plant estimated at some 460 million years old. I also discovered the world's oldest 'droppings' - shedding light on the diet of millipede-like creatures that lived some 400 million years ago, which suggested that the eater was the earliest terrestrial herbivore.

What advice would you give to a young person interested in a career in science?

Keep your knowledge base as broad as possible. When choosing science subjects at school make sure that you include a Wales. His field is surface science and catalysis.

Sir Sam Edwards, FRS Born in 1928. Attended Brynhyfryd Primary and Swansea Boys (Bishop Gore) School. Studied at the University of Cambridge. His field is the physics of materials.

Professor E R Davies Born in 1940.

Attended Rhydypenau Primary and Cardiff High School.

Studied at the University of Oxford. He is an electronic physicist and has specialised in the physical science, even though they might not seem directly relevant to what you want to do.

interpretation of electronic signals.

Sir Keith Peters Born in 1938. Attended Mountain Primary School, Baglan, and Glanafan Secondary School, Port Talbot.

Studied at the University of Wales. He studies the nature and causes of diseases of the kidney.

Professor Neville George, FRS Born in 1904. Attended Morriston Primary and Bishop Gore School, Swansea. Studied at the University of Wales. His field was geology.

Professor Jean Olwen Thomas, CBE, FRS Born in 1942. Attended Tirdeunaw Primary and Llwyn-y-Bryn High School.

Studied at the University of Wales. Her field is biochemistry.

Professor Bryan Coles, FRS Born in 1926. Attended Lansdowne Road Primary and Canton High School.

Studied at the University of Wales. His field is the physics of metals.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 30, 2002
Words:1108
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