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Kate Williams

  • 100
  • Professor of Public Engagement with History

Academic background

I am an interdisciplinary researcher - my research to date ranges from understanding the lives of tiny bees on UK farms, to simulating how the powerful jets from supermassive black holes evolve with their galaxies over cosmic time.

After completing a PhD in astrophysics at Durham University, I conducted research at the Max Planck Institute for Extra-terrestrial Physics (Germany), before moving to the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. There I analysed carbon fluxes from tropical forests, whilst also working on UK-based projects on woodland fragmentation and species conservation. My collaborative work with the NGO Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK resulted in the first quantitative evidence of UK adder declines based on citizen science data and received national and international press coverage.

Within Reading University's Social and Applied Ecology Group, I apply mathematical and computational expertise from the physical sciences to ecological systems to inform land management and policy.

Research areas


  • Modelling biodiversity, and ecosystem benefits to people, across dynamic, heterogeneous landscapes.
  • Building time-dependent, spatially-explicit, process-based models from first principles in order to simulate and understand complex interacting systems.
  • Using advanced statistical techniques to identify the drivers of variability in complex systems.
  • Collaborative knowledge exchange and translation across multiple disciplines, with NGOs and with non-academic stakeholders.


  • STEM School Science Ambassador
  • Co-ordinator of Animals on the Move, a collaborative exhibition, funded by the British Ecological Society, bringing together artists, scientists and conservationists to showcase the incredible journeys made by our migratory animals, the challenges human activities add to these journeys and these things we can all do to help.

Awards and distinctions

  • British Ecological Society, 2019: Regional Fund outreach grant
  • NERC, Researcher Co-Investigator, 2019: Optimising multifunctional land-use decisions through robust combined models: a pollination-crop yield-landscape aesthetics case study
  • Institute of Physics, 2016: Teaching Scholarship
  • STFC, 2015: STEP Award


Mike Image, PhD student, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development



  • Gardner E., Breeze T.D., Clough Y., Smith H.G., Baldock K.C.R., Campbell A., Garratt, M.P.D., Gillespie, M.A.K., Kunin, W.E., McKercar M., Memmott J., Potts S.G., Senapathi D., Stone G.N., Wäckers F., Westbury D.B., Wilby A, Oliver T.H., Reliably Predicting Pollinator Abundance: Challenges of Calibrating Process-Based Ecological Models, 2020, Methods in Ecology and Evolution (in press)
  • Horne, K., and 157 co-authors (including Gardner E.), Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project. IX. Velocity-Delay Maps for Broad Emission Lines in NGC 5548, (submitted to Astrophysical Journal; arXiv:2003.01448)
  • Johnston, A.S.A., Boyd, R.J., Watson, J., Paul, A., Evans, L.C., Gardner, E., Boult, V.L., 2019, Predicting population responses to environmental change from individual-level mechanisms: towards a standardised mechanistic approach, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286, 2019191
  • Gardner E., Hesselberg T., Grabowska-Zhang A., Hughes J., 2019, The Effect of Woodland Area on Avian Community Composition in a Fragmented Southern UK Landscape and Associated Management Recommendations, Bird Study, 1-13
  • Kriss, G., and 166 co-authors (including Gardner E.), 2019, Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project. VIII. Time Variability of Emission and Absorption in NGC 5548 Based on Modeling the Ultraviolet Spectrum, Astrophysical Journal, 881, 36
  • Gardner E., Julian A., Monk C., Baker J., 2019, Make the Adder Count: Population Trends from a Citizen Science Survey of UK Adders, The Herpetological Journal, 29, 57
  • Kynoch D., Landt H., Ward M., Done C., Gardner E., Boisson C., Arrieta M., Zech A., Steenbrugge K., Santaella M.P., 2018, The relativistic jet of the γ-ray emitting narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxy 1H 0323+342, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 475, 404
  • Gardner E., Done C., 2018, What powers the most relativistic jets? - II. Flat-spectrum radio quasars, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 473, 2639
  • Chichuan, J., Done C., Ward M., Gardner E., 2017, Super-Eddington QSO RX J0439.6-5311 - II. Multiwavelength constraints on the global structure of the accretion flow, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 471, 706
  • Gardner E., Done C., 2017, The origin of the UV/optical lags in NGC 5548, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 470, 3591
  • Edelson R., and 43 co-authors (including Gardner E., listed 7th in first tier of authors), 2017, Swift Monitoring of NGC 4151: Evidence for a Second X-Ray/UV Reprocessing, Astrophysical Journal, 840, 41
  • Gardner E., Done C., 2015, Complex narrow-line Seyfert 1s: high spin or high inclination?, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 448, 2245
  • Gardner E., Done C., 2014, A physical model for the X-ray time lags of narrow-line Seyfert type 1 active galactic nuclei, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 442, 2456
  • Gardner E., Done C., 2014, What powers the most relativistic jets? - I. BL Lacs, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 438, 779
  • Gardner E., Done C., 2013, Jets and the accretion flow in low-luminosity black holes, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 434, 3454