Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)

Professor of Organismic Biology



v.savolainen CV




Ms Elisabeth Ahlstrom +44 (0)20 7594 2207




N.1-17MunroSilwood Park





Professor Vincent Savolainen is the Director of the Georgina Mace Centre for the Living Planet, a College initiative that brings together a multi-disciplinary group of researchers to tackle some of the greatest environmental challenges. Professor Savolainen was Deputy Head of the Department of Life Sciences (Silwood Park Campus) between 2013 and 2016. Before joining Imperial College in 2007, he spent nine years as Deputy Head of Molecular Systematics at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Professor Savolainen is a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. In 2006, he was awarded the Linnean Society’s Bicentenary Medal. In 2008, he was awarded a European Research Council Advanced Grant, and the following year a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. In 2014, he was elected a Member of EMBO, and was awarded the Coincy Medal for Botany. In 2015, he was listed in Reuters World's Most Influential Scientific Minds for publishing some of the greatest numbers of highly cited papers in plant and animal science during 2003-2013. Professor Savolainen sits on various panels and advisory committees, including the UK Natural Environment Research Council Peer Review College and the Royal Society International Committees.

His group combines field ecology, molecular phylogenetics, and population genomic approaches to key societal challenges, from explaining the origin of biodiversity to finding solutions for its preservation in a rapidly changing world. Recent research also tackles the Darwinian paradox of sexual orientation.

Current group members:

Will Redding

Henry Hosker

Jemima Frame

Ben Roberts 

Chloe Coxshall 

Theo Brooks

Jeremie Morel

Kyle Mcleod

Katarina Piponi

Selected news:

Scientists Closer to Understanding Gay Behavior in Animals

Monitoring British bats can help identify coronaviruses with pathogen potential

Disease spillover risk ‘overlooked’ as scientists find four species of coronavirus in UK wild bats

Trove of new coronaviruses uncovered in bats — but threat is unclear

Sewage overspill in the Thames likely does not lead to COVID-19 risk

Biodiversity crisis on the agenda: Silwood brings science and policy together

Bugs, Birds & Beasts Day enjoys record number of attendees on celebratory year

COVID-19 poo test for bats may help pandemic monitoring and conservation efforts

Same sex parenting in the animal kingdom

Bugs, Birds, and Beasts Day 2021

Georgina Mace Centre for the Living Planet launches at Silwood Park

Researchers have devised a new sampling method for the elusive hazel dormouse

Chinese water deer introduced to UK may be valuable to restoring numbers in Asia

Mapping coronavirus in sewage could reveal disease hotspots

Could Africa have a sustainable palm industry?

Scientists explore the evolution of animal homosexuality

Summer Lab Party 2023



Savolainen V, Bailey NW, Diamond L, et al., 2024, A broader cultural view is necessary to study the evolution of sexual orientation, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol:8, ISSN:2397-334X, Pages:181-183

Savolainen V, 2023, Environmental DNA helps reveal reef shark distribution across a remote archipelago, Ecological Indicators, Vol:154, ISSN:1470-160X, Pages:1-10

Clive J, Flintham E, Savolainen V, 2023, Same-sex sociosexual behaviour is widespread and heritable in male rhesus macaques, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol:7, ISSN:2397-334X, Pages:1287-1301

Tan C, Trew J, Peacock T, et al., 2023, Genomic screening of 16 UK native bat species through conservationist networks uncovers coronaviruses with zoonotic potential, Nature Communications, Vol:14, ISSN:2041-1723, Pages:1-13

Abubakkar-Waziri H, Kalaiarasan G, Wawman R, et al., 2023, SARS-CoV2 in public spaces in West London UK during COVID-19 pandemic, Bmj Open Respiratory Research, Vol:10, ISSN:2052-4439

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