William is Professor of Palaeoecology and Biogeography at the University of Amsterdam, and Head of the Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics within the Institute of Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED). He has is interested in how ecosystems have functioned in the past and co-ordinates the "Ecology of the past" blog; where details of his current research and teaching activity can be found.
Throughout his research and education William seeks to place current concerns related to on-going, and projected, climate change into a longer term context by examining multiple aspects of the sedimentary record of past environmental change. He is an expert in tropical pollen and environmental change during the Quaternary (last 2.6 million years). He works closely with other researchers to gain insights into past ecosystem function through the examination of many different lines of evidence, including: fossil charcoal (fire history), phytoliths (local vegetation change), and organic geochemistry (plant response to environmental change).
William has active research projects in the Andes, Amazon, West Africa, and the Netherlands with a particular interests in vegetation-human-climate interactions and biogeography. His teaching is focused on two courses at the University of Amsterdam:
Both courses are taught in English, include a strong practical element (laboratory, field and computer), and are suitable for students with biology, Earth science, physical geography, or archaeology backgrounds.
With his personl research William supports a number of BSc, MSc, PhD and post-doctoral projects. If you are intereted in joining the team please get in contact.
Research and education project updates can be found on the Ecology of the past blog.
Publication list on ORCID.
Advisory Editorial Board (2023-present)
Plant Ecology & Diversity
Subject Editor "Global Change & Vegetation Dynamics" (2019-present)
Associate Editor (2018-present)
Vegetation History & Archaeobotany
Associate Editor (2017-present)
Palynologische Kring (Dutch palynological society)
Voorzitter / Chair (2022-present)
Secretaris / Secretary (2019-2021)
British Ecological Society
Chair of Education and Careers Committee (elected 2014-2020)
Ordinary Member of Council (elected 2010-2014)
Secretary of Tropical Ecology Special Interest Group (2006-2009)
Hugo de Vries Foundation
Panel member for the Hugo de Vries Prijs (2022-present)
Natural Environmental Research Council
Peer review college member (2010-present)
Institute of Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam
Professor of Palaeoecology & Biogeography (2022-present)
Head of Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics (2017-present)
Associate Professor in Palaeoecology (2014-2022)
Head of Research Group of Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology (2014-2017)
Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, The Open University
Visiting Research Fellow (2014-2018)
Senior Lecturer in Earth Science (2013-2014)
Lecturer in Earth Science (2010-2013)
Research Councils UK Academic Fellow in Ecosystem Science (2005-2010)
Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology
Post-doctoral Research Scholar High resolution trans-glacial cycles of the tropical Andes (2003-2005)
Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
Technician General/Teaching (1999-2000)
Department of Geography, University of Leicester
PhD in Characterization of Neotropical forest and savannah ecosystems by their modern pollen spectra (2000-2004)
Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Queens' College
MPhil in Quaternary Science (1998-1999)
Department of Geography, University of Hull
BSc (Hons) in Physical Geography (1995-1998)
Centre for Life Long Learning, University of Hull
Certificate in British Archaeology (1996-1998)