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Record-breaking polar explorer, Dr Zoe Hudson, receives Honorary Degree for pioneering spirit

4 March 2024

Dr Zoe Hudson (seated) with other speakers from the Night of Science and Engineering - from left to right: Prof Karin Hing, Prof Martin Knight, Lord Tim Clement-Jones (Chair of Council), Dr Alix Pryde, Marium Qaiser, Prof Wen Wang (Vice Principal)
Dr Zoe Hudson (seated) with other speakers from the Night of Science and Engineering - from left to right: Prof Karin Hing, Prof Martin Knight, Lord Tim Clement-Jones (Chair of Council), Dr Alix Pryde, Marium Qaiser, Prof Wen Wang (Vice Principal)
Dr Zoe Hudson celebrating the record breaking trek to the South Pole
Dr Zoe Hudson celebrating the record breaking trek to the South Pole

On the evening of February 29th, 2024, during the Night of Science and Engineering event, Queen Mary conferred the honorary degree Dr Zoe Hudson, a record-breaking polar explorer and alumna. This recognition celebrates Dr Hudson's remarkable achievements in pushing boundaries and inspiring others through her multiple polar expeditions.

Dr Hudson's extraordinary career began as a PhD student at Queen Mary, during which time Zoe made history as part of the first all-women's expedition to ski to the North Pole in 1997. This pioneering feat was just the beginning. She went on in 2000 to be part of the first British all-women expedition to ski to the South Pole, earning a place in the Guinness World Records and garnering recognition for her courage and determination. 

Dean for Research in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Professor Martin Knight, remarked, "Dr Hudson's achievements, not only in reaching both poles but also in her dedication to research and education, embody the very essence of Queen Mary's ethos of exploration and innovation. We are honored to welcome her back and celebrate her inspiring journey." 

"I am thrilled to have received this award from Queen Mary," said Dr Hudson. My PhD journey took longer and was more arduous than my polar expeditions and I am indebted to the inspirational colleagues who humoured and supported me during this time."

Beyond her polar pursuits, Dr. Hudson has established herself as a dedicated clinician, educator, and researcher. Her expertise in high-performance sports physiotherapy has seen her contribute to major sporting events, including the World and European Championships, World University Games, Commonwealth Games, and Paralympic Games. 

Dr Hudson's polar explorations have inspired others to, quite literally, follow in her footsteps. In 2022, another Queen Mary alumni, Harpreet Kaur, became the first woman of colour to complete a solo expedition to the South Pole. Thus, Queen Mary must be one of the only universities to boast in its alumni, not just one, but two record breaking female polar explorers. 

Updated by: Martin Knight