Charlie Williams

“You have to be prepared, if you want a career in academia, to put in more than just the bare minimum”.

Quick Facts

Nationality: British

Occupation: Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading.

Academic Interests: African climate variability and change.

Personal Interests: Boating / sailing; foreign travel and languages; food and drink.

Childhood and Education

As a child, Charlie Williams spent large amounts of time out to sea having grown up in a sailing-orientated family. He was introduced to boats at a very young age and would frequently go sailing at weekends with his family. At school he was especially strong in geography, with a particular interest in the atmosphere, climate and physical environment undoubtedly developed through his hobby of sailing. He was also proficient at languages. Charlie’s geography teacher inspired him to pursue a career in physical geography, and as such he went on to study geography at A-Level.

With his interest in physical geography now firmly cemented, Charlie went on to study for a BA in Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Sussex. This included a joint honours with French which allowed him to study geography in France during his third undergraduate year, an experience he relished. Following the conclusion of his undergraduate course, Charlie then spent the next two and a bit years doing a PhD at Sussex, which focussed on southern African rainfall. At times this became tough, as there was no bursary available and so in addition Charlie had to work full time as a geography tutor to fund his studies.


During his postgraduate studies at Sussex, Charlie applied for a postdoctoral research position at the University of Reading and also wrote a proposal for a prestigious Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. Charlie was offered the place at Reading and, knowing there was a greater chance of not securing the fellowship, he joined the meteorology department as a postdoc in August 2006. Much to his surprise, Charlie was offered the fellowship only a few weeks later and without hesitation decided to take it up. He held the fellowship at Reading until it ended in 2012, during which time he conducted independent research into Africa and the whole Earth system, focussing on ocean, atmosphere and land surface interactions in the context of African rainfall. Since then Charlie has been working on various short term projects and specialises in African climate variability and change. He has previously spent two years working on the Indian monsoon and his current (2017) research project is looking into the West African monsoon under past, present and future conditions. As well as his present position as a Senior Research Fellow at Reading, Charlie has recently become a part time lecturer at the University of Oxford, where he teaches an evening class once a term on contemporary climate change.

Awards and Achievements

  • Since joining Reading University Meteorology Department in 2006, Charlie has had 15 publications and edited a book in 2008 on African climate variability and change.
  • Charlie is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and an associate member of the Royal Meteorological Society, the European Meteorological Society, the European Geophysical Union and the American Geophysical Union.
  • He was recently promoted to Senior Research Fellow (approximately equivalent to lecturer/assistant professor level).


  • As a student Charlie was involved in a variety of societies including drama, debate, French and the Christian Student Union.
  • Charlie is still very much into boating and goes out sailing whenever he can. He loves travelling to foreign countries and is particularly interested in the cultures of different countries.
  • When he is not travelling his other main interest is food and drink, and he runs his own amateur food blog including restaurant reviews.

Web Links

For more about Charlie and his list of publications: