Professor David John Drewry

Photo of Professor David John Drewry

PhD, BSc. (Lond), Hon DSc (Anglia Ruskin, Hull, Lincoln, Robert Gordon), FRGS, CCMI

Honorary Fellow
Non-Executive Director (Natural Sciences), UK Commission for UNESCO. Formerly Vice-Chancellor, University of Hull

David Drewry graduated from Queen Mary, University of London with first class honours and embarked on his PhD at Emmanuel College and in the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) in glaciology/geophysics, taking his PhD in 1974. He was subsequently research assistant, Senior Assistant in Research and Assistant Director of Research in the University at the SPRI before becoming its Director in 1984. In 1987 he was appointed the Director of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

During his time at the SPRI his research focused on investigations of the Antarctic ice sheet using airborne radar sounding. A ten-year programme, jointly with the US National Science Foundation, led to the first detailed interpretation of the thickness of the ice sheet, its surface and sub-ice bedrock. He was later involved in the design of and application to ice sheet study of the radar altimeter flown on the European Space Agency’s first remote sensing satellite, ERS-1. In the 1980s his research moved to the Arctic with a seven year programme to study the climatically sensitive glaciers of the Svalbard archipelago and in particular the periodic, very fast (surging) behaviour of its ice caps.

As Director of BAS, David Drewry stimulated its scientific work and infrastructure. This latter included the expansion of its headquarters in Cambridge, the building of the RRS James Clark Ross (ice-strengthened research vessel), construction of the replacement Antarctic station at Halley and the construction of a runway and related air facilities at Rothera Station.

In 1994 he was appointed Director of Science and Technology and Deputy Chief Executive at the Natural Environment Research Council. Between 1998 and 1999 he was Director General of the British Council taking up his position as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull in November 1999.

David Drewry has written extensively in the scientific literature on glaciology and geophysics, aspects of climate change and science policy, including two books, and a map folio.

David Drewry served as the founding Chairman of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs, President of the International Arctic Science Committee and served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Executive Board of the European Science Foundation. He is presently the Deputy Chair of UUK Research Committee and UK Representative on the European Universities Association Research Group. He is a Trustee of the Natural History Museum, London.

David Drewry holds the Polar Medal and the United States Antarctic Service Medal as well as the Patrons Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society and the Prix de la Belgica Medal of the Belgian Academy of Sciences. He has a mountain and a glacier named after him in Antarctica!

David Drewry is married to Gillian Elizabeth and lives in East Yorkshire and London.