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Given the obvious impact of climate change, environmental degradation, and the global health emergency caused by the coronavirus, there is an urgent need to ramp up our research efforts, and to build the broadest possible coalition to people able and willing to act for positive change.

For all the wrong reasons it is a very exciting time to be taking up a leadership role at the Environment and Sustainability Institute; there is a great deal to be done.

Professor Jane Wills, Director of the ESI

Environment and Sustainability Institute

Environment and Sustainability Institute

Environment and Sustainability Institute

The Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) is a world-class research institute finding cutting-edge solutions to complex problems of environmental change.

We explore environmental issues using Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as a living laboratory, and taking advantage of the marine and terrestrial environments and local renewables expertise.

Our researchers have backgrounds in Ecology, Renewable Energy, Geography, Medicine, Business, Mathematics, Biosciences, Social and Political Sciences, and Industrial Chemistry.

To date the ESI has attracted research funding in excess of over £32 million.

Professor Jane Wills is Director of the ESI and Professor of Geography at the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES).

Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) working with partners

Three central research themes

Our research is interdisciplinary across three related themes:

  • Ecosystems
  • Energy
  • Engagement

Partnerships with local businesses

The challenges we address are global in scale, but we are developing solutions in partnership with Cornish businesses, which has a direct impact on the regional economy.

The ESI business network has 400 members and facilitates collaboration and business growth. We give businesses access to the latest research and work with them to develop new products, processes and strategies. 

Facilities at the ESI

  • ESI DroneLab – a dedicated drone laboratory with heavy-lifting and lightweight aircraft for environmental monitoring.
  • Lab-rover- a portable laboratory for studying pollinator behaviour.
  • Central interactive area comprising a cafe, conference and social space.
  • Creative Studio, home of the Creative Exchange Programme that brings together researchers with creative practitioners.
  • Large solar simulator.
  • Field Emission Gun, Scanning Electron Microscope (FEG-SEM) capable of imaging materials to a maximum of 10 nanometres resolution (approx.).
  • Large research hall and dedicated workshop.
  • Eight Controlled Temperature (CT) rooms.
  • State-of-the-art harmonic and vertical-looking radar for insect and bird monitoring.
  • SIMRAD fish biomass and seafloor mapping radar.
  • The ESI Beowulf computing cluster and its associated storage provide strong computing architecture to support the diverse needs of an interdisciplinary research centre.
  • Stable Isotope Facility.
  • Two category-two containment laboratories.
  • Wildlife pathology laboratory.
  • Two renewable energy and chemistry laboratories.
  • Office space housing over 200 researchers.

The ESI building itself has been designed to be environmentally sustainable, in line with BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ criteria. Its creation has been enabled by a £30 million investment from the EU European Regional Development Fund (£22.9m) and the South West Regional Development Agency (£6.6m).