Tim is the Director of the Global Systems Institute and Chair in Climate Change and Earth System Science at the University of Exeter. His reading of Jim Lovelock’s books on Gaia, when he was an undergraduate, ignited his passion for studying the Earth as a whole system, forming the foundations of his research to date. For his PhD, supervised by Andrew Watson, Tim studied what regulates the nutrient balance of the ocean and the oxygen content of the atmosphere. In his first job he built a simple coupled carbon cycle and climate model and led the development of the GENIE Earth system model. This led him to studying the coupled evolution of life and the planet and identifying tipping points in the Earth system – past, present, and future. Tim and his group at Exeter focus on understanding the Earth as a system, modelling evolution, ecology, and biogeochemistry, providing early warning of climate tipping points, and identifying positive tipping points towards sustainability. This integrated view of our living planet is captured in his books ‘Revolutions that made the Earth’ with Andrew Watson (OUP, 2011) and ‘Earth System Science: A Very Short Introduction’ (OUP, 2016).
Tim’s work identifying the tipping elements in the climate system won the Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year 2008. He has also received a Philip Leverhulme Prize 2004, a European Geosciences Union Outstanding Young Scientist Award 2006, the British Association Charles Lyell Award Lecture 2006, the Geological Society of London William Smith Fund 2008, and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award 2013. Tim is a Fellow of the Linnean Society, Geological Society, and the Royal Society of Biology. He is a member of the Earth Commission and is a Clarivate Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher.