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Dr Richard Pearson
Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research
Medawar Building
London
Appointment
  • Reader of Biodiversity
  • Genetics, Evolution & Environment
  • Div of Biosciences
  • Faculty of Life Sciences
Biography

Richard Pearson is a Reader in the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, which is a research centre within the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at UCL. Richard completed his Doctorate in biogeography at the University of Oxford in 2004. From 2005-2013 he was a postdoc and then research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, where he maintains affiliation as a Research Associate.


Richard has been identified as one of the world’s most Highly Cited Researchers in the field of Environment/Ecology (Thomson Reuters 2014). He has been Principal Investigator on research projects funded by the US National Science Foundation and by NASA, and his doctoral and postdoctoral research was funded through the European Commission. Richard is a Subject Editor for the journal Global Change Biology and an Associate Editor for Journal of Biogeography. He serves on the steering committee for the IUCN Species Survival Commission Climate Change Specialist Group, is a contributing author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Working Group II, Fifth Assessment Report), and is a member of the UK Natural Environment Research Council’s Peer Review College.


Alongside his research and teaching, Richard engages in communicating biodiversity research to a general audience, including publishing a non-specialist book on the impact of climate change on biodiversity (Driven to Extinction, 2011).

Research Summary

Richard’s research focuses on the biogeography of animals and plants: Where are species distributed? Why are they distributed there? How do distributions change over time? Deepening our understanding of these questions requires a melding of ecological and evolutionary theory, and will be crucial for developing effective conservation strategies in a time of rapid global environmental change. He addresses these challenges using modern computational technologies, including Geographic Information Systems, remote sensing, and ecological modelling. Key topics of interest include the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, the relationship between ecological niches and geographic distributions, speciation processes, and targeting field surveys to accelerate the discovery of unknown species and populations.

Teaching Summary

Richard teaches a module Species Conservation and Biodiversity, which is available to 3rd and 4th year undergraduate students at UCL. He also organizes a module Analytical Tools in Biodiversity, Evolutionary and Conservation Research, which is a core element of the UCL Master’s degree program in Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation.

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