Chief Scientific Adviser for Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

Chief Scientific Adviser for Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture


Professor Mathew Williams was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in January 2022.


Professor Williams provides independent science advice on issues such as the environment, agriculture and the wider rural economy and champions the use of evidence to inform policy development and delivery.

This is a part time position (three days a week) and Professor Williams retains an academic position at the University of Edinburgh.


Professor Williams leads the Global Change Ecology Lab in the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh.

He was educated at the University of Oxford, and the Climatic Research Unit at UEA Norwich. After postdoctoral research, followed by a role as Assistant Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, he moved to the University of Edinburgh in 2000.

Over the past 25 years, his research has focused on studying the carbon cycle of terrestrial ecosystems, including Arctic tundra, the Amazon rainforest, African savannas and Scottish landscapes, including agriculture and forestry. This research has informed society both on how ecosystems will respond to climate change, and how ecosystem responses will change the global carbon cycle.

His lab currently focuses on combining environmental simulation models with field data and satellite observations to understand the flows of carbon, energy, and water across natural and managed landscapes. His research explores the climate sensitivity of forests and tundra, the effect of fires and harvests on forest biomass, effective monitoring of UK and global greenhouse gas balances from space and tall towers, and how to optimise farming in the UK to enhance soil C storage and climate resilience.

Professor Williams received the Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award in 2014. He is a member of the UK National Centre for Earth Observation and is an advisor to the European Space Agency for two of its satellite missions. He has also served on the Science Board for the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

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