Professor Ian Boyd, former director of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews, received the accolade in recognition of his research work on the ecology of seals around South Georgia.
The medal is given by the Queen for important service in the polar regions.
Professor Boyd, who is now chief scientific adviser at the UK government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, worked with the British Antarctic Survey from 1987 to 2001. During that time he spent 12 summers in Antarctica, studying predators.
“I feel humbled to be joining the ranks of many of the people I respect most, from the greats of the age of polar exploration to former colleagues,” he said.
“Of course, the honour of receiving a Polar Medal is small compared with the honour of having spent a significant proportion of my life in what is certainly the most fascinating and unspoiled region of the planet.”