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Dr Mark Brandon

Mark Brandon

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Reader in Polar Oceanography
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Environment, Earth & Ecosystem Sciences
  • mark.brandon

Professional biography

Dr Mark Brandon

I have won many awards leading complex multi stakeholder projects that change how people understand our environment, people and planet.

With a PhD in polar oceanography and 25 years’ experience I have a track record of leading successful large projects in research and teaching. As an expert communicator, I have shaped and developed the narrative of geographic knowledge in broadcast projects watched by more than 200 million people worldwide, and in 2012 I was awarded the honour of Times Higher Education Most Innovative Teacher of the Year.

I have an international research reputation and by embedding my research in television series like BBC Frozen Planet I have created a world class research impact (Public debate, engagement and participation associated with the BBC documentary series, Frozen Planet).

To date I have published more than 40 peer reviewed research articles. If you are interested citation metrics you could look at Google Scholar (h index 28 Nov 2017) or Scopus (h index 26 Nov 2017).


Times Higher Innovative Teacher of the Year 2012


As well as the Times Higher Education Award for "Most Innovative Teacher of the year" (official citation). I have won three Open University Teaching Awards.

I am one of two STEM Open Media Fellows

Responsible for co‐ordinating and leading free learning and broadcast across the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Faculty. Unfortunately, due to embargoes I cannot list the series and programs I am working on. I can tell you they will be good

However, I can tell you I have been have been:

Lead Academic Advisor BBC Frozen Planet (7 hours BBC Prime time) in 2012.

Member of Open University Academic team on Blue Planet 2 (7 hours BBC Prime time) in 2017.

The two Sir David Attenborough Documentaries: Are We Changing Planet Earth? and Can We Save Planet Earth? both in 2006.

Coast Series 1-5 (45 hours BBC 2 2004-9)

Credited Academic on two episodes of BBC One Planet EarthIce Worlds (6.37 million viewers (24% audience share) on first viewing). Shallow Seas (7.32 million viewers (28% audience share) on first viewing) in 2007.

Academic Consultant for the BBC Two programme The Iceberg that sank the Titanic. Part of the Natural World Series in 2005.

Academic Consultant for two episodes of the BBC One Series Blue Planet. The Episodes were: Frozen Seas and Seasonal Seas in 2001.

Research interests

I am very interested in polar oceans and the physical processes that happen in them, and to collect data for my research I have spent years working in the high latitudes; often in winter. My particular strengths have been cross disciplinary work and use of robotic and remote sensing technologies, and I am very interested in talking about polar science wherever I can.

I am the current chair of the Program Advisory Group (PAG) for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) programmes RoSES and ORCHESTRA that comprise the bulk of UK ship based Antarctic Oceanographic research to 2022.

I am also an International Member of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grants Panel “1506 Geosciences”.

I am a core member of the NERC Peer Review College, and have sat on many grant panels acting as Vice Chair on many occasions. I was also co-chair of the NERC Ice Sheet Stability Expert Group with Professor Tony Payne (Bristol).

I am media friendly and over the last decade I have provided many interviews. In 2017, I have appeared on BBC 1 News, BBC News 24, Channel 5, BBC Radio 5, and The World Service. In print, I have been quoted in New Scientist, Sydney Morning Herald, Die Zeit, the BBC News website, International Business Times, and the Business Spectator (Australia). I have written for Geographical (2016), The Conversation (When an Antarctic iceberg the size of a country breaks away, what happens next? 2014, 610k reads) and The Times (2003). I have also appeared on Radio 4 in: Saving Species as a panel member in a 30-minute live broadcast about BBC Frozen Planet, on Making History about icebergs and the sinking of RRS Titanic (both 2012) and More or Less giving expert commentary about the date the Arctic will finally be sea ice “free” (2017).

One aspect of my research was reported by the BBC in 2010 as Giant icebergs head to watery end at island graveyard here - and for a couple of days the story was one of the most popular on the BBC website.

Teaching interests

I have been a leading member of the Open University environment curriculum development team with major contributions to module direction, block/unit chairing leadership, and writing for the production modules:

S175 The Frozen Planet (10 CATS points),

S111 Questions in Science (60 CATS points),

U116 Environment: journeys through a changing world (60 CATS points),

S206 Environmental Science (60 CATS points),

S216 Environmental Science (60 CATS points),

U216 Environment (60 CATS points),

U316 The Environmental Web (60 CATS points), and

S808 Earth science: a systems approach (60 CATS points).

External to the Open University
In 2012 I was also a member of the Module team which put together the FutureLearn course Exploring our oceans.

In 2005 and 2007 I lectured about The Cryosphere at the NERC funded QUEST Earth Systems Science Summer School with Professor Martin Siegert and Dr Finlo Cottier.

Impact and engagement

You will find some videos of me lecturing on my external web site

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)CentreFaculty of Science