ESI names new director


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 – 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.