Katherine J Willis

Director of Science


Since becoming Director of Science in November 2013, I have led the development of a new science strategy and structure for Kew, to focus and enhance its world-leading science and conservation work, strengthen its position as a global resource for plant and fungal knowledge, and promote plant and fungal-based solutions to current global challenges. My research interests focus on the relationship between long-term ecosystem dynamics and environmental change. Recent work has also focused on the development of technologies to measure and derive economic and ecological values for biodiversity. 


Qualifications and appointments: 

PhD, University of Cambidge

Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Founding Director of the Biodiversity Institute.

Fellow of the Royal Geological Society

Adjunct Professor in Biology at the University of Bergen

Foreign Member of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters

Previously held the Tasso Leventis Chair of Biodiversity at Oxford 


Selected publications: 

Cole*, L.E.S., Bhagwat, S. A. & Willis*, K.J. (2014). Recovery and resilience of tropical forests after disturbance. Nature Communications 5: 3906. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4906. 

Froyd, C.A., Cofey, E.E.D, van der Knapp, W.O., van Leeuwen, J.F.N., Tye, A. & Willis, K.J. (2014). The ecological consequences of megafaunal loss: giant tortoises and wetland biodiversity. Ecology Letters 17(2): 144-154.

Tovar, C., Breman*, E., Brncic, T., Harris, D.J., Bailey, R. & Willis*, K.J. (2014). Influence of 1100 years of burning on the central African rainforest. Ecography doi: 10.1111/ecog.00697. 

Willis, K.J., Bennett, K.D., Burrough, S.L., Macias-Fauria, M. & Tovar, C. (2013). Determining the response of African biota to climate change: using the past to model the future. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 368(1625):20120491.

Willis, K.J., Jeffers, E.S., Tovar, C., Long, P., Caithness, N., Smith, M.G.D., Hagemann,R., Collin-Hansen, C. & Weissenberger, J. (2012). Determining the ecological value of landscapes beyond protected areas. Biological Conservation 147(1): 3-12.

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