International Collen-Francqui Professorship David Ellsworth

In the academic year 2022-2023, Ghent University and six Belgian partner universities invite Professor David Ellsworth as an international Francqui Professor because of his expertise on the science of climate change and land surface climate interactions across temperate and tropical regions.

About David EllsworthDavid Ellsworth

Prof. David S. Ellsworth (Western Sydney University) is a highly cited scientist in the field of ecology and the environment with a specific focus on climate change effects on plants and ecosystems.

He leads a cutting-edge team of scientists who seek to understand how plants function in relation to the environment they live in, and how they respond to climate stresses such as heat and rising atmospheric CO2. At Western Sydney, Prof. Ellsworth is science leader of the Eucalyptus Free-Air CO2 Enrichment facility, the world’s largest CO2 enrichment experiment on a mature forest ecosystem.

Prof. Ellsworth has been on the faculties of the University of Vermont, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Duke University and the University of Michigan in the USA, and he’s been Professor of Tree Physiology at Western Sydney University in Australia for the past 15 years where he has led multiple large-scale climate change and elevated CO2 experiments.

Ellsworth’s research has been filmed by the BBC and ABC and has been quoted in Sydney’s Sun Herald, The Age, The Guardian, the Washington Post and the New York Times amongst other media outlets.

Inaugural lecture

Closing symposium

  • 8 December 2022, Ghent University
  • Program: to be announced later

Classes of excellence

During the International Collen-Francqui Professorship by David Ellsworth, we organize six classes of excellence within the context of managing our natural capital under climate change.

These classes are organized as half-day interactive workshops under the guidance of prof. Ellsworth, together with the local organisers and are based around the following two themes:

  1. Future climate risks to our natural capital
  2. Ecosystem-climate and atmosphere interactions: how do we measure them and interpret their importance?

For whom?

These classes of excellence are designed for PhD candidates and postdocs with a broad interest in natural capital.


Throughout these classes, everybody will contribute towards a jointly-written high-level review or perspective paper on natural capital and climate change led by prof. Ellsworth.

Based on your expertise, you will work in interdisciplinary groups throughout all six classes of excellence. We will stimulate interaction with academic experts, as well as other stakeholders. 

Each group will focus on a specific natural capital aspect (e.g. soils, water, forest, agriculture, food, …) and examine its climate risk but also an opportunity for enhancing the capital for public-good benefit.


  • 7 September 2022 - kick-off at Ghent University: Future climate risks to our natural capital, introduction (theme 1);
    followed by the inaugural lecture of prof. Ellsworth “To save or squander: How should we manage our natural capital under climate change?”
  • 28 September 2022 - UHasselt: Experimental studies of climate change impacts on ecosystem functioning (theme 2).
  • 6 October 2022- UAntwerpen: Ecosystem processes that mitigate atmospheric CO2: focus on eddy covariance (theme 2).
  • 27 October 2022 - ULiège-Gembloux: Temperate and tropical tree growth for carbon offsets (theme 2).
  • 8 November 2022 - VUB and ULB: Climate risks for key ecosystem services for human livelihood: water and biodiversity (theme 1).
  • 24 November 2022 - UCLouvain: Tree carbon uptake under climate change: interacting effects of elevated CO2, nutrients, and water availability (theme 1).
Participants are expected to attend all classes in-person including the inaugural lecture and the closing symposium. Master’s students can apply so long as they intend to follow the full course.


Register for the Classes of excellence

Hosted by the Natural Capital platform of the faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University.