AXA Grand Challenges

Between 2012 and 2018, Prof Colin Prentice was the AXA Chair of Biosphere and Climate Impacts, funded by the AXA Research Fund in Paris. Based on the Silwood Park Campus of Imperial College London, Colin led this six-year research programme investigating some of the grand challenges involved in understanding the responses of natural and managed ecosystems to environmental change. His research is moving the land biosphere modelling enterprise ahead of current global vegetation, forestry and crop models, which are for the most part based on the state of process knowledge circa 1990, using a combination of mathematical analysis (using eco-evolutionary optimality criteria) and meta-analysis of large observational data sets.

During term time, Colin and his team got together each Monday morning for a weekly team meeting. Each week, one member of the team (or occasionally a guest) briefly presented their most recent research findings and challenges, in the broader context set by Colin’s 23 “Grand Challenge Questions” on the interfaces of atmospheric science, ecosystem science and hydrology. Posts on this site are based on a selection of these talks.

Some member of the group. From left to right: Cesar Terrer Moreno, Xu Liang (visiting researcher), Prof Colin Prentice, Dr Tyler Davis, Xavier Gilbert, Rebecca Thomas.
Colin’s research team in 2014. From left to right: César Terrer Moreno (PhD student), Professor Xu Liang (visiting researcher), Professor Colin Prentice, Dr Tyler Davis (postdoc), Xavier Gilbert and Rebecca Thomas (PhD students). Photo by Natalie Crawley (executive assistant).


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