Cornell leads a transdisciplinary team of researchers who aim to characterize the global ‘safe operating space for humanity’ in applicable ways. She jointly coordinates the international planetary boundaries research network PB-net. She contributes to the science-policy interface work of SwedBio. She teaches Challenges of the Anthropocene, an introduction to global change science and policy, in the SRC Master’s programme.
Cornell has a research background in marine and atmospheric chemistry. She obtained her PhD in 1996 from the University of East Anglia, UK, where she did postdoctoral research on the global nitrogen cycle before moving into transdisciplinary sustainability research. She worked on integrated approaches to environmental management, mainly of wetlands and coastal zones. Later she turned to issues of global environmental change and sustainability.
She has combined her own research with international science coordination for several years, helping bridge various knowledge communities in environmental change science. And she has occasionally worked as a sustainability consultant, on issues ranging from local participatory processes for community planning up to global environmental risks.
Cornell is involved in several forums where science interfaces with policy, business and wider society. She has served as a Trustee and Vice President of the international Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, a learned society and membership body for all marine professionals. She co-chairs the Executive Committee of IHOPE (Integrated History and Future of People on Earth), a Future Earth project. She co-convenes PB-net, an international network of policy-engaged researchers working to advance planetary boundaries science and operationalization. She is associate editor for the journal Environmental Science & Policy, and an editorial advisory board member of the Journal of Critical Realism.
Throughout her career Cornell has championed university, national and EU initiatives to support women, working parents, and contract research staff working in science.
Awards and achievements:
Research news | 2019-01-17
New Lancet report demonstrates why diet and food production must radically change to improve health and avoid potentially catastrophic damage to the planet
Research news | 2018-10-30
Centre contributes to new WWF report which reveals staggering extent of human impact on planet
Research news | 2018-10-17
Club of Rome report states that inequality reduction and new economic models are necessary for long-term economic and planetary stability
Research news | 2018-09-14
The world needs a much more ambitious work plan to halt species loss and restore biodiversity. Here are three steps to get there
2019 - Journal / article
Food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability; however, they are currently threatening both. Providing a growing global population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge. Although global food production of calories has kept pace with population growth, more than 820 million people have insufficient food and many more consume low-quality diet...
2018 - Journal / article
We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years a...
2018 - Journal / article
We have built a simulation model (Earth3) to help answer two research questions: How many of the 17 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) will be achieved by 2030? And: What will be the resulting pressure on 9 planetary boundaries (PBs)? Our tentative answer is that he world will not reach all SDGs by 2030, nor by 2050, and that the global safety margin (the buffer between the human impact and planetary boundaries) will cont...