Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Biodiversity Metrics and Modelling

Katia Sanchez Ortiz


I am a Mexican researcher and data analyst interested in contributing to biodiversity conservation initiatives and conducting research focusing on measuring the progress towards biodiversity targets. I started my career by completing a Bachelor's degree in Biology in Mexico, where I mainly worked researching population genetics of native oaks. Looking to pursue a research career in biodiversity conservation, I later moved to the UK to complete an MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation and a PhD in Life Sciences, through which I specialised in statistical modelling to quantify the effects of human pressures on terrestrial biodiversity worldwide. Through my PhD research, I gained extensive experience in the analysis of large and complex datasets – such as the PREDICTS database – to develop biodiversity models and indicators to evaluate the impact of land-use change on biodiversity while focusing on comparing responses across geographic areas and taxonomic groups. More recently, I worked as a Programme Officer at UNEP-WCMC where I directly worked with policymakers to develop data analyses and tools to produce high-quality evidence and scientific reports on international trade of species and deforestation-related commodities to support international Conventions and Agreements (e.g., the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the EU Wildlife Trade, Timber, and Deforestation Regulations).

Research Interests


My research has mainly focused on global biodiversity modelling, biodiversity indicators and the assessment of human pressures such as land-use change and international trade of species and deforestation-related commodities. I specialised in these topics since I’m interested in supporting global efforts to halt biodiversity loss and ensure that human pressures are effectively regulated to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources. I am particularly interested in generating scientific evidence to support policymakers focusing on biodiversity conservation, and such interest led me to specialise in research focusing on quantifying the effects of human pressures on biodiversity worldwide.

Current Research

My current research focuses on generating quantitative evidence to interrogate and corroborate biodiversity indicators and metrics used across different initiatives aiming to measure progress towards biodiversity targets or effectively report and disclose biodiversity impacts for national and international procedures. This work largely focuses on developing guidance on how to navigate the gap between existing biodiversity assessment frameworks and the metrics and indicators used to track global biodiversity goals and targets such as those established in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Brief CV


2015 – 2019        PhD in Life Sciences, Imperial College London, UK.

Project title: “Effects of land use on local biodiversity on islands and mainlands worldwide”.

2013 – 2014        MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation, University College London, UK.

Research project I: “Long term changes in UK mammal species”.

Research project II: “Modelling the response of island biodiversity to human impacts”.

2006 – 2012        BSc (Hons) in Biology, Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, Mexico.

Research project: “Genetic structure and diversity of Quercus glabrescens through a gradient of white oak species”.



2020 – 2023       Programme Officer and Associate Programme Officer, UNEP-WCMC, UK.

2016 – 2018        Graduate Teaching Assistant, Imperial College London, UK.

2016 – 2018        Staff at visitor events, Natural History Museum, UK.

2012                       High School Biology teacher, Cardenal Posadas Ocampo High School, Mexico.


  • CITES Secretariat and UNEP-WCMC. 2023. Selection of species for inclusion in the Review of Significant Trade following CoP19. Summary output: Fauna. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge.
  • De Palma, A., Hoskins, A., Gonzalez, R. E., Börger, L., Newbold, T., Sanchez-Ortiz, K., … & Purvis, A. (2021). Annual changes in the Biodiversity Intactness Index in tropical and subtropical forest biomes, 2001–2012. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 20249.
  • Sánchez-Ortiz, K., Taylor, K. J., De Palma, A., Essl, F., Dawson, W., Kreft, H., … & Purvis, A. (2020). Effects of land-use change and related pressures on alien and native subsets of island communities. Plos one, 15(12), e0227169.
  • Sanchez-Ortiz, K., Gonzalez, R. E., Palma, A. De, Newbold, T., Hill, S. L. L., Tylianakis, J. M., … Purvis, A. (2019). Land-use and related pressures have reduced biotic integrity more on islands than on mainlands. BioRxiv.
  • Newbold, T., Sanchez-Ortiz, K., De Palma, A., Hill, S. L. L., & Purvis, A. (2019). Reply to ‘The biodiversity intactness index may underestimate losses.’ Nature Ecology and Evolution, 3(6), 864–865.
  • Hill, S. L. L., Gonzalez, R., Sanchez-Ortiz, K., Caton, E., Espinoza, F., Newbold, T., … Purvis, A. (2018). Worldwide impacts of past and projected future land-use change on local species richness and the Biodiversity Intactness Index. BioRxiv.
  • De Palma, A., Sanchez-Ortiz, K., Martin, P. A., Chadwick, A., Gilbert, G., Bates, A. E., … Purvis, A. (2018). Challenges With Inferring How Land-Use Affects Terrestrial Biodiversity: Study Design, Time, Space and Synthesis. In D. A. Bohan, A. J. Dumbrell, G. Woodward, M. Jackson (Eds.), Advances in Ecological Research (Vol. 58, pp. 163–199). San Diego, United States: Academic Press.
  • Newbold, T., Hudson, L. N., Arnell, A. P., Contu, S., De Palma, A., Ferrier, S., … Purvis, A. (2016). Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment. Science, 353(6296), 288–291.