Dr Brian Harrison Walker

By Helen BeringenMay 3rd, 2020


Dr Brian Walker is an Honorary Research Fellow at CSIRO Land & Water and an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University.

He is an ecologist at the forefront of the inter-disciplinary area of resilience in complex adaptive systems and he is a leading contributor to the world’s understanding of the dynamics and resilience of linked social-ecological systems.

In 2020, Brian received an Order of Australia for his distinguished service to science, particularly to ecosystem ecology and research, and for his contribution to professional scientific bodies.

He is a winner of the Blue Planet Prize (2018), and he is joint recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007).

Brian was born and raised in Zimbabwe and obtained his first degree in agriculture in South Africa, and his Ph.D. in ecology in Sakatchewan, Canada, in 1968.

After several years researching the ecology of tropical savannahs in Africa, culminating in 10 years at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he established and directed the Centre for Resource Ecology.

Brian relocated to Australia and was appointed as Chief of the Division of Wildlife Ecology at CSIRO in 1985, a position he held until 1999.

As a pioneer of resilience science, Brian has inspired and influenced the development of studies on sustainability and resilience.

In 2000, he helped establish and was the first Science Program Director for The Resilience Alliance, an international network of researchers and practitioners dedicated to social-ecological systems science.

Over the past two decades, he has developed a powerful language, set of new ideas, and metaphors for resilience, which have  impacted many fields.

Resilience is now at the forefront of environmental conservation, economics, sustainable development, infrastructure development and disaster preparedness policy.



Brian has written more than 144 scientific papers in addition to 77 chapters, conference proceedings and articles.

He is the author of four books and co-editor of a further 11 books.

He is a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher (2016-2020), and a Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Scientist.

Brian’s books include:

Finding Resilience by Brian Walker. 


Awards and Fellowships

2020 Order of Australia (AO)
2018 Blue Planet Prize, Asahi Glass Foundation
2018 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Scientist
2016-2020 Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher
2013 Fellow, Australian Academy of Science
2007 (Joint recipient) Nobel Peace Prize awarded to IPCC
2004 (Joint recipient) Ecological Society of America Sustainability Award
2003 Australian Centenary Medal for Service to Australian Society in Ecology
2001 Foreign Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry
1999 Ecological Society of Australia Gold Medal
1991 Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
1986 Distinguished Graduate in Agriculture Award, University of Saskatchewan, 75th Anniversary of the College of Agriculture
1971 Charles Bullard Research Fellow, Harvard University
1964-1968 Canadian Commonwealth Scholar


Related information

Dr Walker’s interview with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering

Dr Walker’s CV.