People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Centre Advisory Board Operations and Management Scientific Management Committee
Katrina Brown

Katrina Brown

Chair of Scientific Management Committee

BSc, University of Newcastle upon Tyne • MSc, University of Reading • PhD, University of Nottingham

University of Exeter, United Kingdom

+44 (0) 1326 255903

I am an environmental social scientist, specialising in environmental change, development, vulnerability and resilience. My research focuses on how individuals and societies understand and respond to change, and their different capacities for adaptation and transformation. I am committed to interdisciplinary research on sustainability and have led international research teams to examine environmental change and poverty alleviation in developing countries.
I am also a member of the Geography department in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Research interests

  • Ecosystem services and human wellbeing
  • Global environmental change
  • Resilience, transformation and sustainability

Current projects

  • SPACES: Sustainable poverty alleviation from coastal ecosystem services.This project is part of a seven-year, £40 million research programme funded by Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA).  ESPA is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and National Environment Research Council (NERC) to provide new knowledge demonstrating how ecosystem services can reduce poverty and enhance wellbeing for the world’s poor.
  • The Royal Society: The Human Resilience to Climate Change and Disasters Working Group has a remit to demonstrate how evidence-based decision-making can be carried out to increase human resilience through consideration of ecosystem-based approaches, alongside other adaptation and disaster risk reduction options.
  • The Resilience Alliance: This is a research organisation comprised of scientists and practitioners from many disciplines who collaborate to explore the dynamics of social-ecological systems.
  • P-Mowtick: Participatory modelling of wellbeing trade-offs in coastal Kenya
  • Global Environmental Change (co-editor)


  • PhD Women’s farming groups in semi-arid Kenya (University of Nottingham)
  • MSc Tropical Agricultural Development (University of Reading)
  • BSc Agricultural and Environmental Science (University of Newcastle upon Tyne)


2012 Chair in Social Science, University of Exeter
1991-2012 University of East Anglia (Professor of Development Studies since 2004)
ESRC Professorial Fellowship on ‘Resilient Development in Social Ecological Systems’
2004-2010 Deputy Director for Social Sciences and Leader, International Development Programme, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

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Coral Reef Studies