The chair in biosphere and climate impact, held by Imperial professor Colin Prentice, was officially launched on 24 June with a lecture entitled “State of ignorance: climate change and the biosphere”.
The role is supported by the AXA Research Fund, which provides grants to support research into environmental, socioeconomic and life risks.
Last week the insurance firm announced that it would invest a total of €100 million in research between 2013 and 2018.
Through the fund, which also supports fellowships and competitve grants, AXA has invested €99 million since its launch in 2007.
Some €14 million has been spent on research in the UK and among British academics abroad, the second highest amount of any country, behind France.
Professor Prentice, a researcher in land-biosphere in relation to climate change, moved from Macquarie University in Australia in March to take up chair, which is hosted by Imperial’s department of life sciences and in partnership with the Grantham Institute for Climate Change.
His research work will focus on modelling the biological impacts of climate change, a field which the company says is relatively neglected compared to models focusing on chemical and physical processes.
AXA says that through its fund it will in particular increase its efforts to help scientists to further share their knowledge with a broader audience in order to “actively nurture public debate on risks”.
Grants are awarded by the firm’s scientific board, following recommendations made by independent committees composed of academics.
Jean Drouffe, group finance, risk and strategy director at AXA UK, said he was “very proud to be the sponsor of this chair, and I look forward to a fruitful and long-term intellectual partnership with Imperial College”.