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School of Geography

Oliver Phillips Prof Oliver Phillips

Contact details

School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK


+44 (0) 113 34 36832

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Work in progress

I have developed and led collaborative research partnerships investigating these themes with colleagues worldwide, including: Brazil (INPA, Museu Goeldi, CENA); Peru (Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad de Cusco, Instituto para la Investigación de la Amazonía Peruana); Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Jardín Botánico de Medellín); Ecuador (Quito Herbarium, Missouri Botanical Garden); Bolivia (Museo de Historia Natural Noel Kempff, Universidad Autómoma de Beni); France (CNRS Toulouse); the United States (Missouri Botanical Garden, and Conservation International); Netherlands (Utrecht University); and the UK (Oxford University Centre for the Environment, University of Edinburgh).  I have personally led 24 field campaigns to 7 different countries, involving more than 200 team members.  A comprehensive list of the more than 40 institutional and 120 co-investigators who contribute to the RAINFOR project which I lead is available here.

With support from the Moore Foundation and from NERC, I am leading investigations into the carbon balance and forest dynamics across Amazonia, as well as exploring the factors controlling the distributions of tropical plants, and assessing the nature of change in recent years in the face of tropical droughts.

In two major NERC consortium projects led from Leeds (TROBIT and AMAZONICA), my team also contributes to understanding ecological dynamics at the forest/savanna interface, and is developing better biomass models to understand the sensitivity of carbon stocks and map the distribution of ecosystem carbon and carbon fluxes. Current project support for my research students and post-doctoral researchers comes from the Microsoft Foundation, the Latin American Scholarship and Professional Program for the Americas, NERC, the Moore Foundation, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, a EU Framework VII Marie-Curie Fellowship, and the University of Leeds.


  • 2009-2012 - Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme, The other half of the equation: global variation in tree mortality, PI, with E. Gloor, S. Lewis, D. Purves (Microsoft Research). £72K to Leeds.
  • 2009-2012 - NERC Award, Open Case Award PhD Biodiversity, carbon storage, and productivity of the world’s tropical forests.  PI, with S. Lewis and UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). £65K to Leeds.
  • 2009-2012 - FINCyT award (Peru) to Euridice Honorio and Leeds for PhD research with Oliver Phillips. Total value £60K.
  • 2009-2010 - Asociación de Conservación de la Cuenca de Los Amigos (ACCA), award to RAINFOR for work at Los Amigos, Peru (with N. Pitman, Y. Malhi). £5,000.
  • 2009 - Global Workshop on Forest Carbon Balance, Peking University, Beijing, China. £1,500.
  • 2008-2012 - Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, “RAINFOR: a proposal to understand the carbon balance of Amazon forests” (PI), £2,220,000 to Leeds.
  • 2008-2014 - NERC Consortium, Amazon Integrated Carbon Analysis “Amazonica” (with Emanuel Gloor et al.) £3,646,000 FEC total, £1,585,000 to Leeds.  Leader, WorkPackage 3,
  • 2008 - Royal Society Conference Award (LBA science conference, Brasil).  £1,230.
  • 2007-2009 - Royal Society Ghana liana award (with T. Feldpausch, S. Lewis) £8,900 to Leeds.
  • 2007-2008 - RAINFOR, Enterprise Knowledge and Transfer award from University of Leeds. £3,000.
  • 2006-2012 - NERC Consortium, Tropical Biomes in Transition “TROBIT”.  NE/D005590/1.  £506,673 to Leeds.  Co-I. 
  • 2006-2007 - NERC Urgency grant. Assessing the impacts of the recent Amazonia drought. NE/D01025X/1.  PI. £171,000 to Leeds. 
  • 2006 Royal Society.  Earth System Science Partnership: Global Environmental Change Open Science Conference, Beijing, China; £1,229.
  • 2005-2009 - NERC-QUEST, Quantifying ecosystem roles in the carbon cycle. Co-I with Jon Lloyd; £91,491 to Leeds. 
  • 2005-2007 - Leeds Uni Environmental Trust: The impact of tropical forests on the global carbon budget.  £40,040.  co-PI with Jon Lloyd, Liane Benning, Rob Mortimer, Mike Krom.
  • 2005-2009 - A Early Stage Training Centre: European Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science (BIOCONS), funding of 7 PhDs and several Masters. Total value €1,500,000.  Co-I, and PI for Geography.
  • 2005-2007 - UK POPNET.  Biodiversity assessment in upper Amazonia.  £2,700.
  • 2004-2008 - NERC Standard Grant: Accelerated tree growth in Amazonia. NE/B503384/1. £214,415 to Leeds.
  • 2005-2007 - The Leverhulme Trust, Leverhulme Research Fellowship:  Floristic change in Amazon forests. £21,000.
  • 2004-2007 - European Union Framework VI. PAN-AMAZONIA, Project for the Advancement of Networked Science in Amazonia. Specific Support Action.  €55,000.
  • NERC Standard Grant: Why do different Amazonian forests grow at different rates? £14,700 to Leeds, co-PI with Yadvinder Malhi, U. Edinburgh.
  • 2004 - Royal Society.  Travel award for LBA, Brasilia, Brazil.  £660.
  • National Geographic Society.  20 years of forest change in Southwestern Amazonia. US $24,000.
  • 2003-2005 - University of Arizona, Tucson.  Ecoinformatics of tropical forest permanent plots.  US $12,750.
  • 2003-2004 - Royal Society.  £10,000
  • 2002-2004 - Max-Planck Institut for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany.  In kind (support for full-time PDRA based at Leeds).  €60,000.


  • More than 500 items world-wide in print, radio, and TV
  • Several thousand internet reports.