Len Gillman


Professor of Biogeography
Associate Dean, International
Head of School - Science
School of Science

One of the most exciting areas of scientific exploration is the space where evolution and ecology come together. The interface between these two areas of study is a rich field for scientific discovery, and one that holds special interest for AUT’s Professor Len Gillman.

A respected evolutionary ecologist, Professor Gillman is Head of School for the School of Science, as well as Professor of Biogeography. His areas of expertise and focus include biogeography, biodiversity patterns and causes, and leadership in science. He is particularly interested in questions of causation for global patterns in species richness, principally the link between productivity, rate of microevolution and biodiversity patterns.

Dedicated to inspiring others to excel in the scientific field, Professor Gillman also works hard to encourage students to join AUT’s fantastic team of scientists. Over the past five years he has successfully grown the university’s science student population by 50% and continues to champion the valuable contribution that scientists make to society.

Professor Gillman's other recent accomplishments include being published in the world’s number one physical geography journal, Global Ecology and Biogeography, with an article on global forest productivity and biodiversity patterns. He has also successfully mapped cyanobacteria in Taylor Valley, Antarctica using an AUT drone or UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).

Professor Gillman is an active member of the Centre for UAV research within the Institute of Applied Ecology New Zealand, and Associate Editor of the highly-regarded Journal of Biogeography.

A well-known New Zealand conservationist prior to his appointment at AUT, Professor Gillman was the Manager of the Maruia Society climate change campaign. In this executive position he led the challenge against the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand expanding their thermal power generation activities. He has also previously held executive positions on the Native Forests Action Council and acted as a board director for the Environmental Defence Society.

Alongside his conservation work, one of his proudest earlier achievements is his successful scaling of the 1,000-meter, vertical ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite, USA (a challenging three-day endeavour).

Today, when he’s not lecturing or pursuing his own lines of research, Professor Gillman is still a passionate defender of the New Zealand wilderness. He is regularly involved in climate change action, promoting sustainability and encouraging “the use of native plants in built environments, so that New Zealanders can identify with what is unique about our landscape.”

When he's not working to conserve the environment, he’s out exploring it for himself, happily tramping and cycling around New Zealand. And in amongst all that, he has also found the time to pen a children’s novel, Accipitri, following the adventures of a brave orphan princess and her wild companion as they set off to prevent a devastating clash of kingdoms.

Professor Len Gillman's extended academic profile