Graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Agriculture from Reading University and a PhD in Farm Management from Lincoln College, New Zealand.
He spent three years as a Post-Doc at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, working on bioeconomic modelling of livestock production systems in Latin America, and then was based at the University of Edinburgh for three years working on crop and household modelling projects in Central America and southern Africa.
In 1990, he joined the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) in Alabama, and was involved in projects in various countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
He moved to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in 1996 and became Coordinator of the Systems Analysis and Impact Assessment Programme. From 2002 he was working for ILRI based in Edinburgh, involved with several integrated modelling and climate change impact projects in livestock systems in Africa.
He is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. He has published widely on systems modelling and impact assessment.
He is on the Board of Directors of the International Consortium for Agricultural Systems Applications (ICASA), a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of GECAFS (Global Environmental Change and Food Systems programme), and Editor-in Chief of the journal Agricultural Systems.
Some recent publications
Thornton P K and Gerber P (2010). Climate change and the growth of the livestock sector in developing countries Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (in press).
Herrero M, Thornton P K, Notenbaert A, Wood S, Msangi S, Freeman H A, Bossio D, Dixon J, Peters M, van de Steeg J, Lynam J, Parthasarathy Rao P, Macmillan S, Gerard B, McDermott J, Seré C, Rosegrant M (2010). Smart investments in sustainable food production: revisiting the focus. Science (in press).
Thornton P K, Jones P G, Alagarswamy G, Andresen J, Herrero M (2010). Adapting to climate change: agricultural system and household impacts in East Africa. Agricultural Systems 103, 73-82.
Doherty R M, Sitch S, Smith B, Lewis S L and Thornton P K (2010). Implications of future climate and atmospheric CO2 content for regional biogeochemistry, biogeography and ecosystem services across East Africa. Global Change Biology 16 (2), 617-640.
Herrero M, Thornton P K, Gerber P, Reid R S (2009) Livestock, livelihoods and the environment: understanding the trade-offs. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 1, 111-120.
Thornton P K, van de Steeg J, Notenbaert A and Herrero M (2009). The impacts of climate change on livestock and livestock systems in developing countries: a review of what we know and what we need to know. Agricultural Systems 101, 113-127.
Jones P G and Thornton P K (2009). Croppers to livestock keepers: Livelihood transitions to 2050 in Africa due to climate change. Environmental Science and Policy 12, 427-437.
Thornton P K, Jones P G, Alagarswamy A and Andresen J (2009). Spatial variation of crop yield responses to climate change in East Africa. Global Environmental Change 19, 54-65.
Herrero M, Thornton P K, Kruska R L and Reid R S (2008). The spatial distribution of methane emissions from African domestic ruminants to 2030. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 16, 122-137.
Thornton P K, Boone R B, Galvin K A, BurnSilver S B, Waithaka M M, Kuyiah J, Karanja S, González-Estrada E and Herrero M (2007). Coping strategies in livestock-dependent households in East and southern Africa: a synthesis of four case studies. Human Ecology 35 (4), 461-476.
Thornton P K (2006). Ex ante impact assessment and seasonal climate forecasts: status and issues. Climate Research 33, 55-65.
Thornton P K, Fawcett R H, Galvin K A, Boone R B, Hudson J W and Vogel C H (2004). Evaluating management options that use climate forecasts: modelling livestock production systems in the semi-arid zone of South Africa. Climate Research 26, 33-42.
Jones P G and Thornton P K (1999). Linking a third-order Markov rainfall model to interpolated climate surfaces. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 97 (3), 213-231.