Peter Edwards took the natural science tripos at Cambridge University, specializing in botany, and graduated in 1970. In 1973 he obtained his Ph.D. degree, also from Cambridge, for a thesis entitled Nutrient cycling in a New Guinea montane forest. He was a lecturer/senior lecturer in ecology at the University of Southampton, England, from 1973-1993. Since 1993 he has been professor of plant ecology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), where he has also served as chairman of the Department of Environmental Systems Science.
Peter Edwards has always had a strong interest in the application of science and technology for better policy. He was a founder and first executive secretary of the Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management, a professional organization for environmental practitioners. At ETH he was faculty coordinator and member of the executive board of the Alliance for Global Sustainability, a research partnership between several leading universities.
He is author of around 300 refereed scientific papers and author/editor of several books covering a wide range of environmental topics including ecosystem processes, insect-plant interactions, environmental management and biodiversity. His recent research has focused particularly on large-scale processes in terrestrial ecosystems, including interactions between large herbivores and vegetation, the dynamics of vegetation on the flood plains of large rivers, and the role of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes.