Professor Hilary Birks obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge and undertook post-doctoral research at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Minnesota, USA. Her research focuses on reconstructing vegetation, environment and climate over the past 15,000 years, using macroscopic plant remains and pollen preserved in lake sediments. She worked extensively in Scotland before moving to Bergen, Norway, in 1985, where she was appointed to a personal Chair in 2001. Hilary has made major contributions to knowledge about the development of Norwegian ecosystems and climate since the end of the last glacial period. She is a Foreign Member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She received a lifetime achievement award from the International Paleolimnological Society.