Dr Willem Renema (1972) has been appointed professor by special appointment of Marine Palaeobiodiversity at the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The chair was designated on behalf of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center Foundation. Renema is combining the professorship with his position as research leader of Marine Biodiversity at Naturalis.
Renema is an expert in the fields of biogeography, palaeoecology, coral reefs and marine biodiversity, using large benthic foraminifera (single-celled organisms living on the seabed) as a model organism. His research focuses on unravelling the origins of coral reefs and their biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region.
By means of the Marine Palaeobiodiversity chair, Naturalis and the UvA's Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) aim to join forces in the field of palaeoecological research. Naturalis focuses on marine ecosystems, while IBED specialises more on onshore ecosystems. As professor by special appointment, Renema will focus on research that links marine ecosystems and terrestrial ecosystems. Three main research themes take centre stage: the palaeoecology of tropical shallow marine ecosystems, interactions between landscape evolution in the hinterland and coastal landscapes, and the discovery of species in marine ecosystems.
Renema will also contribute to education at the UvA by sharing his expertise in palaeoecology and tropical ecology at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels. Specifically, he will contribute to the BSc programmes Future Planet Studies and Biology, and the MSc degrees Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences. He will also support individual student research projects at both the BSc and MSc levels, and will be involved in doctoral programmes in the field of marine palaeobiodiversity.
After earning his PhD from VU University Amsterdam with a thesis entitled Larger Benthic Foraminifera as Environmental Indicators, Renema worked successively as curator and scientific researcher at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center from 2003 to 2007. In 2007, Renema received a prestigious fellowship from the Australian Research Council as visiting scientist at the University of Queensland and the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia. In 2008, he returned to Naturalis where he has been heading the Marine Biodiversity research group since 2015. Renema has numerous scientific publications to his name in peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Science Advances, PNAS and Journal of Biogeography.