Team

Professor Andy Purvis - Principal investigator

Photo of Andy Purvis

Andy has been at the Natural History Museum since 2013 and before then was at Imperial College's Silwood Park campus from 1995. His research interests include conservation biology, biogeography and macroevolution. He first became interested in modelling species' responses to human impacts when the 1996 IUCN Red List presented the first comprehensive assessment of mammalian conservation status. Together with many others (including Georgina Mace, John Gittleman, Kate Jones, Marcel Cardillo, Rich Grenyer, Jon Bielby, Natalie Cooper and Susanne Fritz), he modelled Red List status empirically to understand how the changes brought about by people interacted with species' biology to determine which species could persist and which would decline globally. With the PREDICTS project, the focus is on how species respond locally – rather than globally – to the changes they face; at the same time, the taxonomic focus is broader, covering all groups for which we are able to collate useful data.

Dr Jörn W P Scharlemann - Co-investigator

Photo of Jorn Scharlemann

Jörn is interested in quantitatively assessing the impacts of environmental changes on biodiversity and identifying policy-relevant strategies to reduce the effects of human impacts. He has recently moved to the University of Sussex in Brighton to take up a readership in ecology and conservation. Before joining the University of Sussex in November 2012, he was the Senior Scientist at UNEP World Conservation MonitoringCentre (UNEP-WCMC) providing scientific expertise and advice to projects, developing a science strategy, and managing a team of scientists involved in biodiversity modelling (in collaboration with Drew Purves, Microsoft Research Cambridge) and spatial analyses. After receiving a BA and MSc from the University of Oxford, a PhD in Zoology from the University of Cambridge, Jörn worked for the RSPB as a research biologist, and held post-doctoral positions at the University of Oxford and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He regularly uses GIS, remote sensing, statistics and spatial analysis in his research.

Dr Rob Ewers - Co-investigator

Photo of Rob Ewers

Rob works on spatial patterns of forest and the biodiversity contained within those forests. Hi work involves investigating and trying to predict patterns of forest cover from local through to global scales, sampling of taxa within selected landscapes located in both temperate and tropical parts of the world, and manipulative experiments in both the field and lab. Most of the work uses invertebrates as a model system, with a focus on beetles.

A large recent initiative is the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) Project. This is one of the world's largest ecological experiments, taking advantage of a planned conversion of forest to oil palm in Borneo to experimentally design a landscape.

Also, see more details about the activities of Rob's research group on the Forest Ecology and Conservation Group website.

Professor Georgina Mace CBE, FRS - Co-investigator

Photo of Georgina Mace

Georgina Mace was previously Director of the NERC Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College and joined UCL on 1st August 2012. Her research interests are in measuring the trends and consequences of biodiversity loss and ecosystem change. She led the development of criteria for listing species on IUCN's Red List of threatened species, and was a coordinating lead author for biodiversity in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Recently she has worked on the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, is a co-investigator on the NERC Valuing Nature Network, and is an Associate Director of the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Programme, funded by DfID, NERC and ESRC. She was elected FRS in 2002, and was the 2007 winner of the International Cosmos Prize. She is currently a member of NERC Council, President of the British Ecological Society and Chair of the science committee for the DIVERSITAS global change research programme.

Dr Drew Purves - Co-investigator

Photo of Drew Purves

Drew Purves is head of the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science group (CEES) at Microsoft Research Cambridge . Before joining Microsoft, Drew studied ecology at Cambridge University, did a PhD in ecological modelling at the University of York (UK), and a 5 year postdoc at Princeton. Drew's overarching research interest is in combining ecological theory with large and varied data sets, via computational statistics, in order to produce quantitative, predictive models of ecological phenomena. Following Drew's lead, the CEES group is using this approach to build new models to address global environmental challenges – e.g. carbon-climate, food security, wood production, biodiversity and ecosystem function, pandemics – whilst developing new software tools to enable others to carry out this kind of ecological modelling.

Drew has published over 30 research papers in top peer-reviewed journals, including Science, PNAS, Proc Roy Soc B, and most of the top ecology-specific journals. In 2012, he was one of 40 'young scientists' worldwide invited to attend the World Economic Forum 'Summer Davos' meeting in Tianjin, China. He lectures at Cambridge University, and is the treasurer of the British Ecological Society, the world's oldest ecological society.

Dr Luca Borger - Project partner

Photo of Luca Borger

Luca is interested in understanding and predicting how environmental change leads to changes in biodiversity dynamics. His work is not system specific but question-driven, thus he works on contrasting study systems (invertebrates, vertebrates, plants), using experimental, statistical, and simulation modelling approaches. His questions span different levels of ecological organisation, from the behaviour and traits of individuals to the structure and function of landscapes and ecosystems, and Luca is equally excited about basic and applied research, with a keen interest in testing and developing new methods. For more details, see Luca's research group on the Movement Ecology and Biodiversity Dynamics Lab website. Luca has recently moved to Swansea University in Wales to take up a readership/associate professor in ecological biosciences. Before joining Swansea, Luca studied Biology at the University of Pisa (Italy), did a PhD in Zoology at Cambridge, whilst being also visiting PhD student at Imperial College's Silwood Park campus, followed by four years of postdocs in Canada, working on Movement Ecology and species distribution modelling and forest management, and three years of postdoc in France (CNRS & INRA), working on Agroecology. He is Associate Editor for the journals Methods in Ecology and Evolution and Journal of Animal Ecology and Review Editor for Endangered Species Research.

Dr Ben Collen - Project partner

Photo of Ben Collen

Ben Collen leads a research group focussed on developing integrated measures of the status and trends of biodiversity. He was previously Head of the Indicators and Assessments Unit at the Zoological Society of London, and joined UCL's Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research on the 1st April 2013. His research is directed at using ecological and evolutionary principles to identify the processes underpinning heterogeneity in response (e.g. extinction risk, abundance change, range change, extinction) to a range of drivers of biodiversity loss (e.g. climate change, habitat degradation and exploitation). He has carried out field projects in Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Mongolia, Australia, Tanzania, Liberia and most recently the Antarctic.

Dr Lawrence Hudson - Post-doctoral research associate

Photo of Lawrence Hudson

Lawrence is a post-doc in Andy Purvis' lab at the Natural History Museum , working on PREDICTS. Before starting on the project, he completed a PhD on the structure and dynamics of food webs with Dan Reuman at Imperial College London. He is the author and maintainer of the Cheddar R package.

Dr Tim Newbold - Post-doctoral research associate

Photo of Tim Newbold

Tim is an ecologist, whose main interest is in understanding the impact of human activities on the ecological communities. As well as working on the PREDICTS project, he also part of a team building a global mechanistic model of ecosystem structure and function, The Madingley Model. Tim studied Zoology and completed a PhD on Egyptian biodiversity at Nottingham University.

Sara Contu - Technician

Photo of Sara Contu

Sara has a MSc in Natural Sciences with a Conservation focus and she is interested in how human activities influence ecological processes and how this is changing species' distribution ranges and conservation status. She has worked as IUCN Conservation Assessor for several Institutions, including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Natural History Museum, assessing plant species' risk of extinction.

Dr Sam Hill - Technician

Photo of Sam Hill

Sam's past research focussed on the conservation of aquatic invertebrates with a particular interest in the role of host-parasite interactions in limiting population sizes and changing population dynamics. Since completing her PhD at the University of Reading, Sam has undertaken post-doctoral research at Bristol University and has worked within private industry.

Dr Adriana De Palma - Post-doctoral Research Associate on PREDICTSv2

Photo of Adriana De Palma

Adriana is particularly interested in using extensive ecological datasets to understand how biodiversity is impacted by human activities. Adriana completed her PhD at Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum, which explored land-use impacts on bee diversity in collaboration with the PREDICTS project. She is now the post-doctoral research associate on the new stage of the PREDICTS project, which explores how biodiversity responds over time to land-use impacts.

Have a look at Adriana's blog, The Rostrum, for more information.

Dr Igor Lysenko - Biodiversity GIS analyst

Photo of Igor Lysenko

Victoria Burton - PhD student

Photo of Victoria Burton

Victoria completed a BSc in Natural Sciences with the Open University in 2011 followed by an MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity at Imperial College London. Her PhD at Imperial focuses on soil and litter biodiversity, investigating how the composition of these communities will respond to predicted land use change in the UK. This combines new and existing data, including extensive datasets from the Natural History Museum Soil Biodiversity Group, where her MSc project was based.

Victoria's PhD is funded by NERC through Imperial's Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet Doctoral Training Programme.

Katia Sanchez Ortiz - PhD student

Photo of Katia Sanchez Ortiz

Katia graduated from the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos (Mexico) in 2012 with an honours degree in Biology and she completed a MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution & Conservation at University College London. Her PhD at Imperial College London focuses on human impact on islands biodiversity, comparing patterns of biodiversity response to land-use change on islands and mainlands. Her project also investigates whether native and alien species on islands respond differently to land-use change. Katia is currently funded by CONACyT - the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico.

Helen Phillips - PhD student

Photo of Helen Phillips

Helen started her PhD with the PREDICTS project in 2012, following on from an Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Master's at Imperial. Helen's MSc project was also based with the PREDICTS team; investigating the effect on biodiversity of land-use change at a continent level – with particular focus on the transition of primary forest and secondary forest to plantation forests. For her PhD, Helen continued to expand upon her Master's project, as well as investigate the effect of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. Helen is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Idiv in Leipzig, Germany.

Helen's PhD has been funded by a Hans Rausing Scholarship.

Jack Bonnick - MRes student

Photo of Jack Bonnick

I graduated in 2016 from Oxford Brookes University with a BSc (Hons) in Animal Biology and Conservation. I am currently studying an MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation at University College London, in collaboration with ZSL and the Natural History Museum. My research project with the PREDICTS team will focus on the effects of land use change on island biodiversity.

Mark Titley - MRes student

Photo of Mark Titley

Following his degree in Natural Sciences (Zoology) at the University of Cambridge, Mark worked for two months at UNEP-WCMC, where he first became involved with PREDICTS. Mark’s current research, for his MRes in Ecosystem and Environmental Change at Imperial College London, will investigate how biodiversity responds over time after small-scale deforestation.

Oliver Scott - MRes student

Photo of Oliver Scott

Oliver is currently studying an MRes in Ecosystem and Environmental Change at Imperial College London. Having graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Warwick in 2015, he spent a year working in a number of different industries before deciding to continue higher education. His project will focus on the functional traits responsible for resilience in ecosystems undergoing restoration.

Kara Taylor - MRes student

Photo of Kara Taylor

Kara graduated from the University of Chicago in 2015 with a BA in Anthropology and is now pursuing her MRes in Biosystematics at the NHM and Imperial College London. Kara's particular ecological interests are community assembly and, specifically niche-vs-neutral theory, as a framework for considering humans both as members of the ecological community and as strong factors influencing community assembly. Toward that end, Kara is using PREDICTSv1 to investigate how island characteristics create differential effects of anthropogenic disturbance and land use change for native vs alien species.

Ricardo Gonzalez - MRes student

Photo of Ricardo Gonzalez

Ricardo received a BS, MS, and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1991, 1992, and 1997, respectively. After graduation he worked for nearly 20 years in Silicon Valley, first as an individual contributor and later on moving into engineering management. He was a member of the founding team at a number of startups and has worked on semiconductors, server virtualization, enterprise storage, and consumer apps. His goal for the next 20 years is to help mitigate the impact on biodiversity from human-caused climate change. This year he is pursuing an MRes in Ecosystems and Environmental Change at Imperial College to ramp up his ecological knowledge and to quickly grow a new professional network. He has a broad set of interests; modelling ecosystems and ecosystem change, understanding the value of ecosystems, and developing or altering property rights to protect the environment.

Juan Gallego Zamorano - MRes student

Photo of Juan Gallego Zamorano

Juan graduated in 2015 from the Complutense University of Madrid with a BSc in Biology, he did the last 12 months in Helsinki (Finland) where he did the BSc thesis with the Helsinki Lab of Ornithology at the LUOMUS (Finnish Museum of Natural History). He is currently undertaking a double MSc in “Nature Conservation” and “Environmental Data Science”, at the Life Science University of Prague (Czech Republic), and Cranfield University (UK). On his project, he is using the PREDICTS database to investigate the influence of connectivity on site-level biodiversity on flower-visitors in Europe, a factor absents so far from many models of biotic responses to human impacts. He is passionate about birds, he is an active trainee bird ringer and helped during 4 months in an owls rescue centre (Brinzal) in Madrid.

Megan Brown - MRes student

Photo of Megan Brown

Megan graduated from Oxford University in 2016 with a BA in Biological Sciences and is currently undertaking an MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity at Imperial College London. Her PREDICTS project will focus on combining data from PREDICTSv1 and PREDICTSv2 into a shared analytical framework then analyzing this data using mixed-effects models.

Norah Berk - MRes student

Photo of Norah Berk

Norah is a Masters student at Imperial College London studying Ecological Applications. She received her BSFS in Science, Technology and International Affairs at Georgetown University in 2015. After completing her BSFS she worked at an agroforestry investment and forestry consulting firm, which sparked her interest in communal land management. Her project will focus on whether local biodiversity is higher or lower in areas managed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Past project members