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Professor Christopher Folland (BSc Physics 1966)


On leaving Reading, I went into oceanography for two years, then I joined the Met Office in 1968 where I have been since, with one year in USA in the late 1980s. Starting with research into meteorological instrument design and a period in hydrometeorology, most of my career has been in climate change, climate variability and monthly to interannual climate forecasting research. I developed a Met Office group which remains a world leader in observational climatology and introduced tropical seasonal forecasting into the Met Office. Much of my research combines climate modelling with observations. I have been a Lead author four times for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change and co-chair a World Meteorological Organisation modelling project on the Climate of the Twentieth Century involving groups around the world.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

Partly in anticipation of the Meteorology Department opening which it did while at Reading. I did get onto the MSc course but decided in the end to start working in research and earning money.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

Living in St Patricks Hall all three years at Reading. I also took part in University clubs and societies, becoming Second Team and then First Team chess captain for which I was awarded half colours.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Join a University club early to feel at home. Balance a commitment to such social life with that to your course from the beginning.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I now work part time as a Research Fellow in the Met Office and as a Guest professor of Climatology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. I retired from full time work in 2008. I have been married a long time and have a delightful grand-daughter! I owe my marriage to my brief spell in oceanography.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

Get a good degree in Maths, Physics, Meteorology or Enviromental Science and be enthusiastic. Read widely. It is not essential to have a PhD as the Met Office for instance will support this while employed, for really good candidates. The University of Reading is the top place for this!

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

I had more or less decided my career before coming to Reading and so it helped me get that career.

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

1. Get a good degree.

2. Be enthusiastic and knowledgeable about any employer you apply to.

3. Have some strong outside interests that demonstrate commitment and leadership skills over a period of time.

Why did you decide to give to the University of Reading?

Mainly to support students activities and to contribute to developing Reading University as a perceived centre of excellence in the minds of students applying.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

The University of Reading gave me my career. I had a good friend in Geography who was very interested in cricket - we did not play but became keen Hampshire supporters at a time when Hampshire had a number of "characters" - and the sun always seemed to shine at matches! And leading the University Chess teams which did well.

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