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Professor Jane Wills

New director for Environment and Sustainability Institute

Professor Jane Wills has been chosen as the new director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) at the University of Exeter.

Professor Wills, who will take over from Professor Juliet Osborne in May, is a leading academic in the field of geo-political-economy, regional development, community organising and localism.

The ESI – located at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall – is a flagship facility, bringing together a diverse, interdisciplinary group of researchers dedicated to meeting the biggest environmental challenges, to secure a more sustainable future. 

It acts as a hub of environmental innovation and activity, drawing in more than 200 academic colleagues from 22 countries. 

Alongside its international outlook, it also retains a local focus for enhancing the environmental, economic and educational futures of communities in Cornwall and across the region.

Professor Wills said: “Given the obvious impact of climate change, environmental degradation, and the global health emergency caused by the coronavirus, there is an urgent need to ramp up our research efforts, and to build the broadest possible coalition to people able and willing to act for positive change.

“For all the wrong reasons it is a very exciting time to be taking up a leadership role at the Environment and Sustainability Institute; there is a great deal to be done.”

Professor Osborne, who has been ESI director since May 2017, is one of the world’s leading experts on bees and pollinators, has completed her three year term and is stepping back to focus on a number of major research awards.

“The ESI has a wonderful community of staff and students and it has been an honour to lead such an inspiring team of people,” she said.

“I have learned so much and I am very excited to welcome Jane into the role of Director. She brings highly relevant expertise to this role at a time when the world has to find new ways of tackling massive environmental, medical, social and economic challenges all at the same time. I look forward to working closely with her in the future.”

Professor Neil Gow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) at the University of Exeter, said: “Our institutes are a critical component of our Research and Impact Strategy, both co-creating and co-locating inter-college research.

“I am absolutely delighted that Professor Jane Wills will be the next director for our Environment and Sustainability Institute, to continue the incredible success of ESI in tackling global challenges at all scales, and to forge new research pathways and partnerships.

“I very much look forward to working with her and seeing the ESI grow in new and exciting ways.”

Date: 1 April 2020