Dr Kristen Williams

Research Director

Contact details:

  • GPO BOX 1700


Dr Kristen J Williams is presently Research Director for Living Landscapes, leading a multidisciplinary group of scientists within a program of research focussed on a sustainable Australia where biodiversity prospers, ecosystems function and adapt, and ecosystem services meet the needs of all people. Her dedication to science spans more than 30 years; including more than 15 years with CSIRO (since 2003). She has lived in several Australian regions, leading or contributing to the delivery of knowledge products and their adoption by government and non-government organisations that have advanced biodiversity conservation, land management policies and investment strategies.


Kristen has a broad background in theoretical and quantitative plant ecology with disciplinary expertise in field botanical survey, vegetation mapping, spatial ecological modelling and biodiversity conservation planning. She has also developed an in-depth appreciation for the essentials of information management and the need for effective information architectures supporting delivery of novel science and data products. Her research aims to incorporate system understanding of biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment in land evaluation and spatial prioritisation assessments; supporting more enduring biodiversity planning and conservation decisions when coupled with a participatory process. Her current focus is on global, continental and region-wide analyses of biodiversity pattern and process using macro-ecological and species occurrence models, with an emphasis on their extension into real world applications informing policy, planning and management.


Kristen currently leads the Ecosystem Function and Assessment research group in CSIRO Land and Water. The group comprises around 26 research staff in four teams across two sites (Canberra, Perth) and about the same number of affiliates (students, honoraries, visitors). She also continues to lead/participate on ecological research projects underpinning the nation’s prosperity. Previously she led the Integrated Ecology Team (CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences) and coordinated the Terrestrial Landscape Futures Focal Research Area within CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship, and delivered on a diverse portfolio of research (2011-2014).


Kristen’s research is enriched by her broad practical and theoretical early career experience including three years as biological laboratory technician in South Australia, and many years of field assessment, data integration and mapping of vegetation, biodiversity and conservation values in Tasmanian forests and wilderness areas, contributing to the establishment of a representative system of conservation reserves in that State. Her PhD focussed on data collation, mapping and modelling the distribution and co-occurrence of eucalypts throughout Tasmania incorporating novel process-oriented environmental covariates to improve prediction and interpretation. With the Queensland State Government for five years, in research and planning roles, she continued to develop species and ecosystem models supporting land allocations decisions, and co-developed and implemented initial iterations of the State's bioregional biodiversity planning assessment program.


For a full list of Kristen’s publications see her profiles at ResearchGate, LinkedIn, GoogleScholar and ResearcherID

Academic Qualifications

  • 1998

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    University of Tasmania Hobart

  • 1991

    Bachelor of Science (BScHons) First Class
    University of Tasmania Hobart

  • 1981

    Biological Science (laboratory) Technician Certificate
    South Australia Institute of Technology, Adelaide

  • 2009

    Geographic Information Systems Professional – Asia-Pacific (GISP-AP, 2009-2014)
    Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, Canberra

  • 1991

    Applied Statistics (Mathematical Sciences, non-degree undergraduate courses)
    University of Tasmania Hobart

  • 1980

    Marine Science Summer School
    SA Colleges Advanced Education Adelaide

Professional Experiences

  • Jul 2016-current

    Group Leader (Ecosystem Function and Assessment)
    CSIRO Land and Water, Biodiversity, Ecosystem Knowledge and Systems Research Program (Black Mountain, ACT)

  • Sep 2014-Jun 2016

    Group Leader (Biodiversity Assessment and Conservation)
    CSIRO Land and Water Flagship, Biodiversity, Ecosystem Knowledge and Systems Research Program (Black Mountain, ACT)

  • Oct 2013 -Sep 2014

    Team Leader Integrated Ecology
    CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Ecology Program (Black Mountain, ACT)

  • Jul 2011 -Jun 2014

    Focal Research Area Coordinator Terrestrial Landscape Futures
    CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, Managing Species and Natural Ecosystems Research Theme (Black Mountain, ACT)

  • Jul 2011-Jun 2014

    Senior Research Scientist
    CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Ecology Program (Black Mountain, ACT)

  • May 2009 -Jun 2011

    Research Scientist (Ecological Geographer)
    CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Agricultural Landscapes Program (Gungahlin, ACT)

  • Jan 1999-Dec 2000

    Visiting Research Fellow
    Faculty of Science, Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane)

  • May 2003-Apr 2009

    Research Scientist (Ecological Geographer) and Team Leader (Systematic Conservation Planning)
    CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Tropical Landscapes Program (Brisbane and Atherton, Qld)

  • Feb 2003-Apr 2003

    A/Coordinator, Threatened Species and Ecosystems, Conservation Sciences
    Queensland Government Environmental Protection Agency, Forestry and Wildlife Division (Brisbane)

  • Mar 2001-Feb 2003

    Principal Biodiversity Planning Officer
    Queensland Government Environmental Protection Agency, Planning Division (Brisbane)

  • Mar 1998-Feb 2001

    Senior Forest Modeller, Forest Ecosystem Assessment
    Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources (Brisbane)

  • Nov 1997 -Feb 1998

    Postdoctoral Researcher
    University of Tasmania (Hobart)

  • 1991-1996

    Field Botanical Consultant
    Self Employed (part-time), Tasmania

  • 1991-1994

    Tutor, 1st Year Plant Science Laboratory Practicals
    University of Tasmania (Hobart)

  • 1985-1991

    Field Botanist, Conservation Project Officer (various roles)
    Tasmanian Government: Forestry Commission, National Parks and Wildlife Service (Hobart)

  • 1979-1981

    Biology and Chemistry Field and Laboratory Technician
    South Australian Teachers College / University of South Australia (Adelaide)