Professor Patricia Werner

PhD (1972: Michigan State University, USA)
Honorary Professor

After completing my B.S., I taught biology for four years before returning to post-graduate school to complete my MS and PhD at Michigan State University (MSU) and post-doctorate at University of Iowa.  I joined MSU as Assistant Professor, advancing to Professor in only 11 years while conducting research on plant population dynamics in the context of community structure and function in succession systems and prairies, and earning an international reputation.  Doctoral students under my supervision became successful researchers (including distinguished professors, deans, and a university provost, as well as staff in environmental consulting firms, public servants, and an attorney.)  

I began researching tree population dynamics in Kakadu National Park in 1982 while on sabbatical leave from MSU, looking at the role of fire, grazing and understorey on tree survival and growth.  

I moved to Australia in 1985, taking up a role as senior principle research scientist and head of TERC, CSIRO’s centre in Darwin 1985-1990.  I became an Australian citizen in 1988 (hold dual citizenship).  

I returned  to the US as Director, Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation, Washington DC 1990-1992 (research budget of $72M), then to University of Florida as Professor and Chair of Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and Director, Centre for Conservation Ecology.  Fulbright Senior Fellow to Australia, 1999-2000; fostered student exchanges between USA and Australia.  I retired from University of Florida as Professor Emeritus in 2003 after a 2-year physical illness.  I moved back to Canberra in 203 as a Visiting Fellow with CRES, ANU.  I currently hold appointments as adjunct professor, Charles Darwin University and my main affiliation is Visiting Fellow, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU.

Research interests

Population and Community Ecology; Biogeography

Research on mechanisms responsible for distribution and abundance of terrestrial plant and animal populations. Emphasis on life histories, competition and predation, recruitment and reproduction; interaction of fire, grazing, exotic species, climate change; savannas, prairies and successional habitats. Long term studies in Kakadu National Park. Approach is strongly experimental, field-oriented, with collaborative modelling of future projections for targeted populations.

Population Ecology, Community Ecology, Terrestrial Ecology, Biogeography