Preston University ‘explorer’ follows in famous footsteps

Posted on - 13th June, 2021 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Education, Preston City Centre, Preston News, UCLan, University campus
The UCLan campus in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall
UCLan’s campus in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall

The work of an academic researcher at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been recognised through a prestigious fellowship, previously awarded to luminaries such as Sir David Attenborough, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Kate Adie and even Neil Armstrong.


Niki Alsford, Professor in Asia Pacific Studies, has been confirmed as a Fellow of the Explorers Club in recognition of his ongoing work on climate sustainability in the Pacific.

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The organisation promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences.

Fellowships are reserved for those who have distinguished themselves by directly contributing to the scientific understanding of the world through field research on their expeditions.

Niki Alsford

Professor Alsford said: ”It’s a great honour to have been admitted to this professional society which from a research perspective will provide me with access to a global network of expertise, experience and support.

“Pacific island countries and territories are highly vulnerable to climate change, putting at risk the development gains the region has made in recent years. Consequently, there is an urgent need for action on climate change readiness and I hope this fellowship will help to unlock the answers to some of these pressing issues.”

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Professor Alsford’s fellowship will be based in the Great Britain and Ireland Chapter, in which he has been sponsored by explorer Mark Wood and co-sponsored by polar explorer Craig Mathieson. 

Becoming a member of the Explorers Club is no easy feat. The membership committee looks for applicants that are of the same calibre as renowned alumni such as Sir Edmund Hillary, Thor Heyerdahl, and Ernest Shackleton.

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Founded in New York City in 1904, The Club’s members have been responsible for an illustrious series of famous firsts: First to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean, first to the surface of the moon.

Professor Alsford is Director of the University’s Institute for the Study of the Asia Pacific; Co-Director of the International Institute of Korean Studies; Co-Director of the Northern Institute of Taiwan Studies and is Chair of the Centre of Austronesian Studies.

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He is also an appointed Research Associate at the Centre of Taiwan Studies at SOAS, the University of London and is a Research Fellow at the Ewha Institute of Unification Studies at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea.

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