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Tom Oliver

Portrait of Tom Oliver
  • Research Dean for Environment
  • Professor of Applied Ecology

Areas of interest

  • Quantifying impacts of land use and climate change on wildlife
  • Biodiversity change and the resilience of ecosystem functions
  • Socioecological systems and environmental risk

Impact, Enterprise and Outreach

  • Advisor to UK government on ‘chronic risks’ for National Security Assessment
  • Lead Educator for open (free) online course: Using Systems Thinking to Tackle the Climate and Biodiversity Crisis
  • Author of Defra Systems Primer which “now underpins much of the Department’s thinking on systems approaches” 
  • Lead external advisor for designing Defra’s Environmental Targets common evidence framework
  • Popular science articles published in several newspapers (e.g. GuardianIndependent) and magazines (e.g. BBC Science FocusAssociation of Commonwealth Universities)
  • Developer of species climate change risk assessments and a decision framework for adaptation in partnership with Natural England
  • Author of technical report in UK Terrestrial Climate Change Impacts Report Card
  • Development of a UK indicator of functional connectivity in collaboration with JNCC
  • Quantifying UK biodiversity changes across 22 species groups, including a spatial indicator of national biodiversity 
  • Research regularly cited in international newspapers and magazines, radio interviews (e.g. BBC Radio 4), and TV (e.g. BBC NewsChannel 4 NewsEuroNews)

Esteem Factors

  • Research Dean for UoR ‘Environment Theme’ comprising 200 academics, hundreds of postdoctoral researchers and PhD students seeking to explore, understand, and address the planetary environmental crisis
  • Author of critically appraised book  THE SELF DELUSION: The Surprising Science of Our Connection to Each Other and the Natural World
  • Leader of Social and Applied Ecology Research Group
  • Research papers in Science, PNAS, Nature Climate Change, Nature Communications, TREE, The Lancet Planetary Health 
  • Seconded to UK Government Office for Science (specialist methodology advisor) 
  • Seconded with UK Department for Food and Rural Affairs (‘design authority’ for Systems Research Program; 2019-21)
  • Defra Environmental Land Management (ELM) Expert modelling panel, Defra Global Catastrophic Risks expert working group member,  Expert Consultation on System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Experimental Ecosystem Accounting
  • Bespoke advice/presentations to HM Treasury, UK Environment Secretary of State, Office for Environmental Protection, European Commission, UK and Dutch Research Councils, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, EU Joint Research Centre, Royal Society Science Policy Advisory Committee, Natural England Principal Specialists meeting, Council for Science and Technology, and Defra Science Advisory Committee.
  • European Environment Agency Scientific Committee Member (2016-20)
  • NERC Peer Review Panel member and reviewer for > 8 international funding agencies and world-leading journals
  • Research cited in seminal reports from IPBES, IPCC, European Environment Agency, UK Natural Capital Committee and UK Parliament
  • External Advisory Board member for Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity
  • Involved in successful funding bids (PI/Co-I) totalling £7.8M income (e.g. funding through NERC, BBSRC, Natural England)