Director of Science, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
29 May 2013
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is delighted to announce that Professor Kathy Willis will be joining as Director of Science.
Kathy is currently the Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford and Director of the Biodiversity Institute at Oxford.
She has over 20 years research and teaching experience in biodiversity, conservation and ecosystem management at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
As Founding Director of the Oxford University Biodiversity Institute, Kathy’s vision for influencing global decision-making on biodiversity has been implemented in practice, through collaboration with a range of disciplines and institutes, commercial partners and government, nationally and internationally.
Kathy holds a distinguished academic record in areas highly relevant to Kew’s science and conservation work including a PhD in Plant Sciences from the University of Cambridge.
Kathy’s research interests focus on the relationship between long-term ecosystem dynamics and environmental change. Recent work has focused on the development of technologies to measure and derive economic and ecological values for biodiversity.
In addition to her position at Oxford, Kathy is adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Norway. She is also a trustee of WWF-UK.
Kathy will be joining Kew on a long-term (5 year) secondment.
Kathy Willis says, ‘The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a recognised leader in its field with a global reputation for the quality and integrity of its work in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. I am thrilled to be given this opportunity to lead the science programme and to work with staff, students and volunteers in building on the organisation’s dynamic growth over more than 250 years, and expanding its influence and impact in the future. My secondment from the University of Oxford to Kew will ensure that the close ties that already exist between scientists at the two institutions are strengthened in new research areas that answer many of today’s pressing land-use challenges.’
Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser at Defra, says, ‘I am delighted that Kathy Willis will be joining the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as its new Director of Science. She is a scientific leader with an outstanding reputation in biodiversity research. Her appointment further enhances the global reputation of Kew as a leading centre in botanical research and the world’s premier botanic garden.’
Richard Deverell, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew says, ‘This is a fundamentally important role providing leadership for the development and implementation of a clear, effective and ambitious strategy for Kew’s science and conservation. Kathy brings great experience to the role and I know that she will work tirelessly to maintain and extend Kew’s scientific excellence. Kathy is a great communicator and will be a powerful and passionate advocate for Kew’s science. We look forward to welcoming her to Kew.’
Kathy Willis will be starting in November 2013. She will be a member of the Executive Board of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, reporting to the Director, Richard Deverell.
Media enquiries: Please contact the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Press Office on +44 (0)20 8332 5607 or email email@example.com
Professor Kathy Willis
Professor Kathy Willis’s first degree was in Geography and Environmental Science from the University of Southampton. Her early postdoctoral career was spent in the department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge. In 1999 she moved to a University Lectureship in the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, where she established the Oxford Long-term Ecology Laboratory in 2002 and was made a Professor of Long-term Ecology in 2008. Kathy moved to her current position in the Department of Zoology of the University of Oxford in 2010.
Professor Willis has worked on projects examining biodiversity baselines and processes responsible for ecosystem thresholds and resilience and recent projects include the development of a web-based decision support tool to provide measure of ecological and biodiversity value of landscapes outside of protected areas that can be used by businesses to reconcile competing objectives of maximising financial gains and minimising ecological impacts.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract over 1.5m visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately half its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.
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