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: 

Long, P.R., Benz, D., Martin, A. C., Holland, P. W. A., Macias-Fauria, M., Seddon, A.W.R, Hagemann, R., Frost, T. K., Simpson, A., Power, D. J., Slaymaker, M.A. & Willis*, K.J. (2018). LEFT—A web-based tool for the remote measurement and estimation of ecological value across global landscapes. Methods Ecol Evol. 2017 Available online

Willis*, K.J. & Petrokofsky, G. (2017). The natural capital of city trees. Science, 356, 374-376. Available online

Seddon, A.W.R., Macias-Fauria, M., Long, P.R., Benz, D. & Willis*, K.J. (2016). Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability. Nature, 531, 229-232. Available online

Willis*, K.J., Jeffers, E.S. & Tovar*, C. (2018). What makes a terrestrial ecosystem resilient? Science 359 (6379): 988-989. 10.1126/science.aar5439. Available online

Willis*, K.J. (ed.) (2017). State of the World’s Plants 2017. Report. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Available online

Willis*, K.J. (ed.) (2016). The State of the World’s Plants Report – 2016. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Available online

Further information

Email: K.Willis@kew.org

General enquiries: ScienceAdmin@Kew.org