‘eighty years of promoting biodiversity conservation through taxonomic research, scientific training and international networks’

Harrison Institute, Centre for Biodiversity Research

Paul working with a student from Mandalay University, Myanmar.

Dr Paul Bates

Paul read geography at Oxford University (1980-1983) before undertaking his PhD (1983-1987) on mammal taxonomy and zoogeography at the Harrison Institute and Royal Holloway College, University of London.

Today, he is the Director of the Harrison Institute and devotes most of his time to:

  • capacity building in the biodiversity sciences in the Old World tropics and subtropics
  • developing networks between scientific and conservation organisations in Asia and Africa
  • co-research with a new generation of young taxonomists in Asia and Africa.

Over the years, he has built long term links with a range of institutions in Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Africa and Zambia.

The aim throughout has been to support in-country biodiversity science. This has included training MSc and PhD students in all aspects of biodiversity research to an international standard. Other activities include hosting international workshops and conferences, supporting international exchanges of students and facilitating the publication of numerous papers by young taxonomists from the tropics.

At the same time, he has helped develop the Prince of Songkla University-Harrison Institute as one of the pre-eminent training centres for taxonomy in SE Asia, with expertise in mammals, birds and amphibians. In recognition of his contribution to science in SE Asia, he was awarded an Honorary doctorate by this Thai univeristy in 2012.

Paul has published numerous scientific papers, including the description of nine new mammals to science [more information], and two monographs: The Mammals of Arabia (1991) and the Bats of the Indian Subcontinent (1997) [more information].

He has been the PI of three Darwin Initiative projects, all of which were based in SE Asia. Over the years, he has raised in excess of £500,000 in funding for biodiversity projects in Asia and Africa.