Isla is a Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and a global change ecologist. She studies plants in the Arctic and beyond and how ecosystems are responding to climate change. Isla works with her research group Team Shrub using tools from measuring tapes to drones to capture Arctic change in the Yukon territory in northwest Canada and around the tundra biome. Her research is demonstrating a dramatic transformation of tundra plant communities with Arctic warming.
Isla has been studying high latitudes for 20 years, including spending cumulatively 16 months conducting field research in the Canadian Arctic. She works collaboratively with local communities and international research teams. Isla is a National Geographic Explorer she received the 2018 Royal Geographical Society Walters Kundert Fellowship.