Kathy Willis


Department of Zoology
South Parks Rd

Professor of Biodiversity & Director of Science at Kew Gardens

Kathy's research interests focus on biodiversity responses to environmental change and the dynamic processes of species and their interactions with the environment over a range of timescales.

Research topics covered fall broadly into four categories:

  1. reconstruction of biodiversity baselines and targets
  2. examination of ecosystem resilience, variability and thresholds
  3. understanding drivers and rates of change to ecosystem services
  4. biodiversity beyond reserves.

Many of these research projects are based in protected areas and linked in with conservation organisations.

Recent work has also focused on the development of a web-based decision support tool that provides a measure of ecological and biodiversity value of landscapes outside of protected areas that can be used by businesses to reconcile the competing objectives of maximizing financial gains and minimizing ecological impacts. This has direct relevance to planning landscapes for food, fuel and biodiversity.

She established and runs the Oxford Long-term Ecology Lab.

Kathy Willis is Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford and is also on secondment as Director of Science at Kew Gardens. She previously held the Tasso Leventis Chair of Biodiversity and was founding Director of the Biodiversity Institute, which is a member of the Oxford Martin School. She is a Professorial Fellow at Merton College. She gained her first degree in Geography and Environmental Science from the University of Southampton, and a PhD in Plant Sciences from the University of Cambridge.