Dr Frances Butcher

Department of Geography

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Dr Frances Butcher standing in front of a glacier
+44 114 222 7972

Full contact details

Dr Frances Butcher
Department of Geography
Room C5
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

I am a Planetary Scientist researching glacial landforms on Earth and Mars.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the ERC-funded PALGLAC project (PI: Prof Chris Clark), using glacial landforms to reconstruct the flow dynamics of the former Scandinavian Ice Sheet.

I obtained a BA in Geography from the University of Cambridge in 2015 before moving to The Open University to undertake a PhD entitled 'Wet-Based Glaciation on Mars', which I completed in 2019.

During my time at The Open University, I also contributed to landing site selection for the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars ('Rosalind Franklin') rover mission, which launches to Mars in 2022.

Research interests

My key research interests include:

  • Landforms produced by glacial meltwater on Mars, and their implications for environmental conditions in Mars' recent and ancient past.
  • Interactions between glacial, periglacial, and paraglacial processes on Mars and their implications for environmental change.
  • Landforms produced by the flow of past ice sheets on Earth, and their implications for ice sheet dynamics.
  • Comparisons of landforms on Mars with analogous landforms on Earth.


Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

Theses / Dissertations

  • Butcher FEG (2019) Wet-Based Glaciation on Mars. RIS download Bibtex download


  • 2019: International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) Conference Grant (€1320)
  • 2019: Lunar and Planetary Institute Career Development Award ($1500)
  • 2019: GeoPlanet Research Mobility Grant (€1200): Awarded by Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique, University of Nantes
  • 2018: Royal Astronomical Society Travel Grant (£900).
  • 2018: British Society for Geomorphology Postgraduate Conference Attendance Grant (£300).
  • 2017: Pierazzo International Student Travel Award ($2000): Awarded to one non-US graduate student globally per year by the Planetary Science Institute.
  • 2016: Europlanet Grant: Full funding to attend Europlanet RPIF 3D training workshop, Mullard Space Science Laboratory.
  • 2016: 6th International Mars Polar Conference European Student Travel Grant (€666): Awarded by the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences.
  • 2015: Ogden Trust Trustees' Award (£900).
  • 2015: British Society for Geomorphology Postgraduate Conference Attendance Grant (£850).
  • 2015: ProViDE Summer School EU Student Travel Grant (£500).
Professional activities
  • 2nd prize for '3 minute thesis' competition (2018), Open University STEM faculty.
  • Nature Astronomy Prize for Best Student Presentation (2017) at the 1st British Planetary Science Congress, Glasgow, UK, 4-5 Dec. 2017 (Poster).
  • Paper subsequently reported in a Nature Astronomy Research Highlight
  • John Glen Prize (2017) for the best student talk at the International Glaciological Society's British Branch Meeting, Lancaster University, UK, 5-7 Sept. 2017.
  • Prize for best student talk (2017) at the Astrobiology Society of Britain: Habitability Beyond Earth conference. Open University, UK, 13-14 Sept. 2017.
  • William Vaughan Lewis Prize (2015), University of Cambridge prize for undergraduate geography dissertation.
  • Corpus Christi College Prize (2015), Corpus Christi College (University of Cambridge) prize for undergraduate dissertation.
  • Hewitt Exhibition (2015), Corpus Christi College (University of Cambridge) prize for contributions to outreach and admissions initiatives between 2012 and 2015.