Claire Belcher

Claire Belcher

As a leading Earth scientist, it is perhaps not surprising that Claire Belcher finds inspiration in the world around her. Claire’s ground-breaking research looks at the role that wildfires play on our planet, yet she insists that her motivation comes from surroundings much closer to home. She says: “My inspiration comes from what I can see outside my window. Our planet is simply amazing, how all these living beings and the rocks beneath our feet work together to create a habitable planet. It makes you wonder just how it all fits into place.”

Claire’s passion for her work was recognised when she was awarded the coveted Marie Curie Prize for Communicating Science in 2013. And this enthusiasm for engaging people of all ages in discussions about science is further recognised when Claire recalls the proudest moment of her career to date.

She said: “In 2009 I received a letter written by a little boy from County Roscommon in Ireland, explaining he really enjoyed reading about my work surrounding the mass extinction of dinosaurs in a newspaper article. I sent him a piece of dinosaur bone that I collected some years back, and he replied with drawing of two dinosaurs fighting. I still have the picture in a frame on my office wall today - it was so nice to see that my work had sparked the interest of the next generation.

On the theme of what ‘inspiring change’ means to her, Claire explained: “I want to see the creation of an inclusive environment in science for people of all genders, of all ages and from all backgrounds. In teaching the next generation I come across so many students both boys and girls with different backgrounds and different ideals. All of them are capable of success but how they view and see their success depends on what and who they have to relate it to.

Personally, I've certainly been inspired by people with energy, enthusiasm and passion, who have gone with their dreams and followed them. I've been lucky to have several wonderful female mentors in my early career and I certainly wonder if I hadn't been part of that inclusive environment would I be here today?”