Engineer of the Week No.81: Jane Anne Plant (Lunn Simpson) CBE FREng FRGS FRSA FRSE FRSM CEng CGeol FIMMM FAEG FGS (1945-2016)
This week we remember Professor Jane Plant, geochemist, metallurgist and expert on the effects of environmental chemicals and diet in cancers.
Professor Jane Plant had a many-faceted career in earth-sciences, metallurgy and even health authorship. Similar to many of our amazing engineering foresisters, Jane’s initial education was not, on the face of it, in engineering: she started in geology but via geochemistry and metallurgy came to be considered not just one of the leading geochemists of her era but also an important engineer.
Jane Ann Lunn was born in 1945 in Derbyshire, England. She was educated at Ashby de la Zouch Grammar School for Girls and gained a first class honours degree in geology from the University of Liverpool. She then joined the British Geological Survey and went to work for Stanley Bowie at the BGS Atomic Energy Section, where she developed geochemical survey methods to identify resources of economically important metals stream sediments in the north of Scotland. In 1977 this earned her a PhD on "Regional Geochemical mapping in Great Britain with particular reference to sources of error", from the University of Leicester. She rose quickly through the BGS and in 2002 became its first female Chief Scientist. Jane had also been awarded the CBE in 1997 and become the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy’s first woman president in 2001 Her work led to the worldwide applications of such databases, in mineral exploration, environmental issues and pollution, and in studying the health of ecosystems and humans. Her research areas also included metallogenesis and crustal evolution. She was proactive in public understanding of science and in encouraging young women in her field. Jane had several bouts of cancer which led her to research and publish on how diet and chemicals (such as cadmium and others) in the environment can affect susceptibility to cancer and other aspects of human health.
Her first marriage was to Dr. Ian Plant, and she later married Peter Simpson, a BGS colleague.