Featured News JCU Professor named in research elite

Media Releases

Fri, 18 Nov 2016

JCU Professor named in research elite

James Cook University’s Professor Bill Laurance has joined the ranks of the world’s elite researchers, being named in an exclusive list of the globe’s most influential scientists.

The Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate has been named among the 2016 Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher list, which is published by Clarivate Analytics*.

Prof. Laurance says it’s a terrific honour to be included among the most highly cited researchers in the world.  

“It’s one of the greatest recognitions any academic can receive and I’m humbled to be included among the ranks of such high-flying scientists.”

It’s estimated that every year, more than nine million scientists and scholars across the globe publish their findings, or research papers, in academic journals.

The Highly Cited Researcher list represents an elite group of scientists whose research papers have been most influential – by assisting, inspiring or challenging other researchers who footnote, or cite, the reports in their subsequent work.

“It’s great working at a tropical powerhouse like JCU. I’m not sure that Australians realise just how highly JCU is regarded as a global research institution, but I've turned down prestigious jobs at places like Yale, Princeton and the Smithsonian Institution in order to come here.  I’ve never regretted it for a moment.

“My research team and I are passionate about finding ways for people to live sustainably while not destroying tropical nature.  It’s a gigantic challenge and there’s never a shortage of things to work on!

“In environmental terms, we’re living in the most critical era since a giant asteroid smashed into our planet 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs and many other species along with them. It’s no exaggeration to say that we’re battling right now to stop one of Earth’s greatest extinction events—ever.

“I suppose I’m a bit unusual as I scientist, as I get into the occasional political dust-up. But I just don’t see how you can separate science and politics, especially when we’re talking seriously about nature conservation. I sometimes joke that ‘If you’re not annoying somebody, you’re just not doing your job!’ ” Prof. Laurance said.


Prof. Laurance is a leading voice for nature conservation and believes that scientists must actively engage policy makers and the general public, as well as other scientists.  

He joined JCU in Cairns in 2009 after having spent 14 years as a Senior Staff Scientist with the Smithsonian Institution, based in Brazil and Panama.

Prof. 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, Prof. Laurance is Director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, a large interdisciplinary research group with over 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 organisation that advances environmental sustainability and reaches around 200,000 informed readers worldwide each week.

Prof. 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 35 years spans the tropical world, including tropical Australia, the Amazon, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. He has published eight books and over 550 scientific and popular articles.  

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 important professional honours including the BBVA Frontiers in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award, a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Heineken Environment Prize. In 2015 he received the Zoological Society of London’s Conservation Scientist of the Year Award, and he is a four-time winner of Australia’s Best Science Writing Prize.

Pics of Professor Laurance: http://bit.ly/2fKgzgA

*Clarivate Analytics - formerly the Intellectual Property and Science Business of Thomson Reuters.


Prof. Bill Laurance
bill.laurance@jcu.edu.au (monitored continuously)