Dr Cristina Banks-Leite, Lecturer, Department of Life Sciences

I was born and raised in Brazil, where I studied ecology and fell in love with nature. I moved to the UK in 2010, to take up a postdoctoral fellowship to conduct my research at Imperial. In 2013, I was hired as a lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences and have been here since.

My work is about understanding why species go extinct and what the consequences are for ecosystems once species disappear. At present, my group has six PhD and seven Masters students. They are looking at a wonderful variety of systems in Brazil, Costa Rica, Borneo and the UK, and they are analysing groups as diverse as epiphytes, dung beetles, birds and their microbiome.

Collectively, we have shown that species loss in the tropics can reach up to 90% and that even small changes to biodiversity can lead to substantial consequences to pest predation, herbivory and even nutrient cycling. Most crucially, my research has been able to inform policy makers on how much native habitat is required to maintain biodiversity in Brazil. It is incredibly rewarding to see that our research outputs have been used to preserve species in a highly threatened biodiversity hotspot.

Imperial’s greatest strength are its people. It is fascinating to work in such a thriving community of outstanding scientists and excellent students. I also love working in the Silwood Park Campus, where we have woodlands and enough grounds to set up long-term experiments.

Discover more from Imperial people

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading