Iain Colin Prentice


Professor Iain Colin Prentice FRS, works in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London. He has a PhD in Botany from Cambridge University and has held academic and research leadership positions in several countries, including the Chair of Plant Ecology at Lund University and a founding Directorship of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. Colin is also a co-lead researcher (unfunded partner) with Ian Wright at Macquarie University for the project ‘Optimal Photosynthetic Traits on Ecological Time-Scales’. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC)and aims to understand how soils and climate shape plant ecological strategies for nutrient and water use in photosynthesis.

He held the AXA Chair in Biosphere and Climate Impacts (2012-2018) and an Honorary Chair in Ecology and Evolution at Macquarie University.  He led the research programme Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System for NERC. He developed the standard model for pollen source area, popularized now widely used techniques to analyse species composition along environmental gradients, and led the international development of successive generations of large-scale ecosystem models – from equilibrium biogeography (BIOME) to coupled biogeochemistry and vegetation dynamics (LPJ).

His current research applies eco-evolutionary optimality concepts to develop and test new quantitative theory for plant and ecosystem function and land-atmosphere exchanges of energy, water and carbon dioxide, with the goal of more robust and reliable numerical modelling of land processes in the Earth System. Having recently been awarded a 5-year European Research Council (ERC) grant, he is now leading the REALM project (Reinventing Earth And Land-surface Models).