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William Laurance

Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns

William Laurance

William Laurance is a Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia.  He joined JCU in 2009 after having spent 14 years as a Senior Staff Scientist with the Smithsonian Institution, based in Brazil and Panama. 

Professor Laurance also holds the Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University, Netherlands, and is a research associate at the Smithsonian and Harvard University. 

At James Cook University, Laurance is director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, an active interdisciplinary research group with about one hundred investigators working in more than 40 tropical nations.  He also founded and directs ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers—a scientific organization that advances environmental sustainability and reaches around 500,000 informed readers worldwide each week. 

Laurance received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.  His research focuses on the impacts of intensive land-uses on tropical forests and their biodiversity.  He is also interested in protected areas, climatic change, infrastructure issues, and conservation policy.  His research over the past thirty-five years spans the tropical world, including the Amazon, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.  He has published eight books and nearly 600 scientific and popular articles. 

A leading voice for nature conservation, Laurance believes that scientists must actively engage policy makers and the general public, as well as other scientists.  He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Australian Academy of Science, and former president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.  He has received a number of major professional honors including the BBVA Frontiers in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award, a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, the Heineken Environment Prize, and several Scopus Highly Cited Researcher Awards.  In 2015 he was recognized as the Zoological Society of London’s Conservation Scientist of the Year, and he is a four-time winner of Australia’s Best Science Writing Prize. 

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