Professor Luisa Orsini

Luisa Orsini

Former position

Turing Fellow

Partner Institution


I am Professor of Evolutionary Systems Biology and Environmental Omics at the University of Birmingham where I am affiliated both with Biosciences and the Institute of Interdisciplinary Data Science and AI. I am also a Turing Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute, the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. 

My mission is to improve environmental health by pushing the boundaries of research and innovation. I apply high throughput sequencing technologies, data science and AI to understand the impact of environmental change on freshwater ecosystems. I work with ghost DNA and resurrected crustaceans to identify the causes of biodiversity loss and the mechanisms of evolution that allow species to persist. I love multidisciplinary science and thinking out of the box. This thinking has led me to patent and commercialize a water reclamation and waste valorisation technology that meets the net-zero carbon emission goals and delivers clean water to all. By translating cutting-edge multidisciplinary science into practical applications, I provide tools and processes for mitigation interventions that enable green growth and meet UN developmental goals.

Research interests

Human health and well-being are intimately linked to environmental quality. Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today, responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths. Detection and measures in the environment and health area are inadequate because the links between healthy environments and healthy humans are dynamic and complex. First, the variety of species and genes in a given habitat, called biodiversity, is the foundation of healthy ecosystems and of the services they provide, which underpin economic prosperity, social well-being and quality of life.

Biodiversity is declining at 1,000 times the natural rate, which is responsible for the decline of an estimated 60% of the Earth's ecosystem services (ES) over the last 50 years. Second, climate change significantly impacts biodiversity, causing habitat destruction and species loss, as well as shifts in community assembly and ecological structure. However, climate is only one of the factors impacting biodiversity. It is the synergistic action of climate and other environmental factors linked to human activities (e.g. land-use, pollution and species invasion) that ultimately impact biodiversity. Last but not least, biodiversity response to environmental change varies dramatically in space and time. Only by simultaneously investigating environmental change and biodiversity across space and time, the impact of such changes on ES directly linked to human health and wellbeing can be understood. Only by accurately forecasting the impact of loss of biodiversity on ES, can we begin to understand the long-term impact of polluted environments on human health.

As a Turing Fellow, Dr Orsini has the long term goal of improving human health and wellbeing by creating a novel evidence-based framework that enables the identification of actionable targets for ES conservation, and the prioritization of pollutants for mitigation interventions.