Stephen Williams
James Cook University

Steve Williams bio

Professor Stephen E. Williams

Professor of biodiversity and climate change, James Cook University

See Professor Williams’ full research profile here.


Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

  • Professor Williams’ research was one of the first to identify global climate change as a severe threatening process in the tropics and that we may be facing many species extinctions in mountain systems around the world. This work resulted in the Australian Wet Tropics being internationally recognised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as one of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems. Papers in PLoS Biology, Nature, Nature Climate Change, American Naturalist, Global Change Biology, Diversity & Distributions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London have made significant contributions to the high profile of climate change biology in the literature. His research is highly cited and has produced significant outcomes in research, policy and management at all levels from regional to international.
  • Professor Williams was the convenor then director of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) national adaptation research network – terrestrial biodiversity (2009–2013) and then directed the natural ecosystems network under NCCARF II (2014–2017). The network established and brought together research networks in terrestrial, marine and freshwater biodiversity. The project provided open exchange of knowledge, information and resources across an inclusive collaborative network that includes representation across states, sectors, stakeholder groups, ecosystems and fields of expertise. Outputs from the project provide explicit and practical strategies that guide decision-makers and increase the resilience and adaptive potential of natural ecosystems in the face of climate change.
  • Biodiversity and climate change monitoring in the Wet Tropics: collaborative project with Queensland Parks and Wildlife (QPWS) and Wet Tropics Management Authority to conduct monitoring and train QPWS rangers in monitoring across the region.

Current academic employment and positions

  • 2010–present: professor of biodiversity and climate change, James Cook University.

Highest qualification

  • 1998: PhD, James Cook University

Major prizes, medals and honours

  • Earthwatch Institute Principal Investigator of the year awarded for an ‘outstanding contribution to conservation research and public education’
  • The Wet Tropics Management Authority Cassowary Award for contributions to science (2008)
  • James Cook University Faculty of Science and Engineering Dean’s award for Excellence in Research.

Roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • 2017: lead author, Australian national adaptation research plan for terrestrial biodiversity
  • 2006–2012: founding director of the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change.

Links with non-government groups or networks

  • biodiversity expert advisory group, Papua New Guinea Department of Environment and Conservation.

My Projects

Current projectCompleted project
NESP RLH, 2021-2027NESP, 2015-2021NERP, 2012-2015TRaCK, 2005-present