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Dr Kristen Williams

Principal Research Scientist


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Dr Kristen Williams is a principal research scientist at CSIRO Land and Water with extensive experience in research management, coordination and delivery. As an Ecological Geographer, she specialises in the integration of ecosystem and landscape sciences through multi-disciplinary team collaborations to generate data and knowledge products informing systems of ecologically sustainable land management, where biodiversity prospers, ecosystems function and adapt, and ecosystem services meet the needs of all people. She has extensive experience co-designing research with end users to ensure outputs meet their needs with a focus on biodiversity conservation, vegetation management policies, NRM planning and prioritising conservation investment strategies.

Dr Williams' dedication to science spans more than 30 years. She has a PhD in plant ecological modelling from the University of Tasmania and early career experience in state government environment agencies (Tasmania and Queensland). She collaborates extensively with others to integrate and synthesise complex science having co-authored over 200 science publications reporting research findings for government and industry. Having a passion for delivering quality data, she is a prolific publisher in CSIRO’s Data Access Portal.


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.


Dr Williams has led or contributed to a wide range of multi- and trans-disciplinary research teams, Nationally & Internationally. She was inaugural Research Director for Living Landscapes (2019/20), bringing together over 80 biophysical scientists from a diversity of terrestrial environmental domains into a cohesive program of work. Prior to this she was a Research Group Leader in biodiversity and ecosystem science for over 5 years, responsible for up to 30 research staff, and supporting strategic development and delivery of the research program’s science, capability and business. She joined CSIRO in May 2003, following five years with the Queensland State Government in applied forestry and biodiversity conservation research and planning roles. This included co-developing and implementing the State's biodiversity planning assessment program; recognised through a Planning Institute of Australia Rural Award for Planning Excellence in 2001. In Tasmania, many of her representative dry sclerophyll forest reserve recommendations were implemented.


Kristen’s research is enriched by her broad practical and theoretical early career experience including three years as a biological laboratory technician in South Australia, and many years of field botanical survey, conservation values 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 eucalypt species 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 and mapping program.


For a full list of Kristen’s publications see her profiles at ResearchGate, LinkedIn, GoogleScholar and Publons - 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-Jun 2019

    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)

  • Jul 2019-current

    Principal Research Scientist (Ecological Geographer)
    Living Landscapes Research Program, CSIRO Land and Water

  • Jul 2019-Jun 2020

    Research Director Living Landscapes
    CSIRO Land and Water

  • 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)

We have publications by Dr Kristen Williams