Professor Chris Abell

2nd November 2020

It is with deep shock and sadness that CCI has learnt of the death of Professor Chris Abell. In addition to his distinguished career as a chemist and a senior leader within the University of Cambridge, Chris was a valued member of the CCI Council, which he joined in 2015 as the Vice-Chancellor’s representative. Council members will remember his incisive, thoughtful style and his deft guidance of CCI through University processes. He was deeply committed to CCI’s collaborative ethos and took pride in the potent mix of academic and practical conservation initiatives that define CCI. Chris’s enthusiasm and willingness to be involved with CCI activities provides many fond memories for Council members, particularly at CCI’s annual Council retreats (where he demonstrated his credentials by participating enthusiastically in early morning bird-watching sessions).

Former CCI Executive Director Dr Mike Rands said “As Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Chris was a great champion of cross-disciplinary strategic research initiatives and envisioned how the CCI collaboration was able to integrate pioneering research to deliver conservation impact at scale. He played an instrumental part in embedding CCI within the University and promoting its vision and achievements globally. Chris was wise, kind and unfailingly supportive to the CCI staff and will be both deeply missed and much cherished for this contribution to this remarkable collaboration”.

Jo Elliott, Chair of CCI Council, said “Chris will be remembered by all at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative as an insightful champion of the role the University is playing in addressing the global climate-nature crisis, and a wise advisor to this new collaboration between the University and nine sector-leading civil society organisations. His commitment to CCIs goals and to building our highly collaborative platform over the past few years has delivered both a world-leading initiative and a collaborative space in the David Attenborough Building that the University can be proud of. All on CCI Council will miss Chris’s patient and thoughtful guidance hugely, and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues”.

Alison Richard, Chair of CCI’s Advisory Board, said ”Chris Abell’s standing as a distinguished scientist and star of the Chemistry Department was well known to me as Vice-Chancellor. Through CCI, I came to know him in his role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, and this deepened and broadened my respect and admiration still further. University leaders have many calls upon their time, many things to worry about, but Chris somehow managed to give his undivided attention to discussions at the CCI table and we were all beneficiaries of his engagement. Wise, measured and kind, he offered steadfast support to CCI. He made a difference for the good, as he did in so many spheres, and we join the wide community of colleagues and friends who mourn his death and will miss him greatly”.

Read the University of Cambridge’s tribute to Chris Abell

Image: University of Cambridge