Royal Society honours York scientist

21 April 2012

A biologist at the University of York, who specialises in research into the impacts of human activities on wild animal species, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, one of the world’s top scientific honours.

Professor Chris Thomas, of the University’s Department of Biology, is among 44 new Fellows announced by the Royal Society today.

Election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society is recognised worldwide as a sign of the highest regard in science. Candidates must be proposed by at least two existing Fellows and are assessed by Sectional Committees in each major field of science.

Professor Thomas has developed a scientific basis to understand how species respond to the loss and fragmentation of natural habitats and he is a world leader in research on the ecological impacts of climate change. He and his collaborators have demonstrated that the world’s wildlife is moving rapidly towards the poles and to higher altitudes, in response to global warming. He has determined that climate change is likely to endanger many species, and he has pioneered approaches to the conservation of biodiversity under climate change.

Professor Thomas said:

I’m thrilled to have been elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society. I have been very lucky to have such excellent colleagues and students over the past 30 years, and I see this as recognition for their contributions as much as for myself.

The Head of Biology at York, Professor Debbie Smith, said:

This is a hugely deserved honour for Chris Thomas. His work is in the vanguard of global research into the ecological consequences of climate change and highlights York’s commitment to studying the impact of human activities on biological systems.

Chris Thomas has published over 200 scientific journal articles and reports, and his work is among the most highly cited by any ecologist in the world. He has received four prestigious scientific awards and medals for his research on ecology and conservation, he has been on the editorial boards of nine international scientific journals, his work has been reported in thousands of media articles around the world, and he has contributed to national and international conservation and climate change policy assessments and reviews.

He was an undergraduate at Cambridge, gained his PhD at the University of Texas, before working as a researcher in New Zealand and at Imperial College. He joined the University of Birmingham as a Lecturer in 1992, moving to the University of Leeds in 1995, where he became a Professor in 1999. Professor Thomas moved to York in 2004.

Outside work, Chris spends as much time as possible encouraging wildlife in his garden and field; abandoning the house to his wife, three daughters and son.


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