Ecological champion

Life has taken on quite a different path from that first envisioned by Professor Kris French.

From the young woman who initially wanted to work with lions, French has forged new directions for environmental research in Australia.

French, from UOW's Centre for Sustainable Environmental Solutions, is now regarded a leader in the area of ecology in Australia.

She has undertaken a range of executive positions for the Ecological Society of Australia, including President from 2011-2013. During that time, she put in place a governance structure in investments and the constitution that would take the society into a new era.

Furthermore, she instigated a large project that was co-jointly developed with the Terrestrial Environmental Research Network and the Australian Academy of Science to develop Foundations for the future: A long-term plan for Australian ecosystem science, which gave advice to the government and the community about the needs of environmental science over the next decade.

"A love of the outdoors spurred on by my father, who was an agriculturalist, led me to a science degree where I learned that there were more animals in this world than snails, slugs and lions, and that plants were incredibly interesting", French said.

The Eureka prize-winning scientist who is also a Member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts has always found it easy to work with students. Her development of the biostatistics curriculum within the School of Biological Sciences at UOW has been the backbone of training for undergraduates and postgraduates alike for research in biology.

French has supervised 70 honours students and 29 postgraduates since 1993 when she began at the university.  With more than 94 publications, she has made a significant impact on ecological research in Australia. She has achieved all this while raising two children who are now young adults. 

"I want to improve our conservation of the environment through my research and training new skilled experts," she said.