His primary position is Emeritus Professor with the Fenner School of Environment and Society, the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra. He is also a Councillor with the independent Climate Council of Australia.
He began his career as a chemical engineer with a BSc from the University of Missouri. He holds an MSc (1972) and PhD (1975) degrees in chemistry from the University of Florida and honorary doctorate degrees from Stockholm University and the University of Canberra. Following a research fellowship at the Research School of Chemistry at ANU from 1977-1980, Will joined the CSIRO Division of Environmental Mechanics in the roles of science management, editing and communication.
In 1990 Will took up the position of Executive Officer for the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). From 1998 to 2004 he served as Executive Director of IGBP and was based in Stockholm. Will returned to Canberra in mid-2004 and took up a Visiting Fellowship with the Bureau of Rural Sciences, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian Government. A year later he joined the ANU and was the foundation director of the Fenner School of Environment and Society before serving as Executive Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute from 2008 to 2012.
Will's research interests span a broad range within the field of Earth System science, with an emphasis on global sustainability integrating Earth and world dynamics, planetary boundaries and the Anthropocene.
His work usually takes a synthesis/integration approach to complex questions about the evolution of the human-environment relationship, often working with teams of researchers across ANU and Australia, and internationally.
He has given numerous presentations on climate change, global change and Earth System science to political and business leaders as well as community groups. He has also served on several advisory boards and review panels. He holds an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Geography and Geology, Copenhagen University.
Research news | 2018-08-06
Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed
Research news | 2017-02-10
New paper formalises mathematically the current rate of change of Earth’s life support system
Research news | 2015-10-12
Recent crises are increasingly global and follow new kinds of patterns
Research news | 2015-01-15
As Science publishes the updated research, four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed
2018 - Journal / article
Rapid urbanisation generates risks and opportunities for sustainable development. Urban policy and decision makers are challenged by the complexity of cities as social–ecological–technical systems. Consequently there is an increasing need for collaborative knowledge development that supports a whole-of-system view, and transformational change at multiple scales. Such holistic urban approaches are rare in practice. A co-design ...
2017 - Journal / article
Earth system analysis is the study of the joint dynamics of biogeophysical, social and technological processes on our planet. To advance our understanding of possible future development pathways and identify management options for navigating to safe operating spaces while avoiding undesirable domains, computer models of the Earth system are developed and applied. These models hardly represent dynamical properties of technologi...
2016 - Journal / article
Stratigraphy provides insights into the evolution and dynamics of the Earth System over its long history. With recent developments in Earth System science, changes in Earth System dynamics can now be observed directly and projected into the near future. An integration of the two approaches provides powerful insights into the nature and significance of contemporary changes to Earth. From both perspectives, the Earth has been pu...