Villy Christensen, FRSC


Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries

Principal Investigator, Global Ocean Modelling

Graduate Program Committee, Chair

Degrees: Cand. scient., Ph.D.

Contact Information

Office phone: 604-822-5751
Mailing address: 326 – 2202 Main Mall, Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL) Building, UBC, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z4
Websites: Quantitative Modeling GroupGlobal Ocean ModellingPersonal website

Research Unit

Global Ocean Modelling

Research Interests

Dr Christensen is a professor at the University of British Columbia specialising in ecosystem modelling—in particular data-driven ecosystem model construction. He is known for his work as a leader and developer of the Ecopath project, an open source ecosystem modelling software system widely used for ecosystem based management and increasingly for environmental impact assessment . His recent publications have described global ocean models, studied global fish biomass trends, and outlined new habitat capacity models. See the Global Ocean Modelling website for an overview of projects, student activities, opportunities, and other.


Dr Christensen grew up in Skagen, the then biggest fishing town in Denmark, where everyone in his extended family lived off the sea. Back then, there were 500 boats at the harbour with a crew of around 2,000. Add families and those who worked at the harbour, and we’re at more than 8,000 – out of a population shy of 10,000. Fisheries were important. Now there are less than 30 boats in the harbour and tourism is the big employer. He was the first in his extended family to go to high school, liked studying, and, not too surprisingly, chose to work with fisheries. After graduation, he worked with the Danish Institute for Fisheries and Marine Research for a decade, for then to be posted by Danida to the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management (now WorldFish Centre) in the Philippines. He next joined UBC, where he has been a faculty since 2004. He has worked with the development of the Ecopath modelling framework and software since joining ICLARM in 1990, and it is still one of his major initiatives.

Dr Christensen was awarded the Award of Excellence of the American Fisheries Society in 2020.

Dr Christensen was elected a Fellow of the American Fisheries Society in 2021.

Dr Christensen was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2022.

About modelling

Dr Christensen works with ecosystem modelling with the premise: Models are not like religion – you can have more than one, (and you shouldn’t believe them).


Refereed list

Non-refereed list

Books and reports