Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, 2017-2021
Thomas E. Lovejoy died Dec. 25, 2021. He was elected University Professor at George Mason in March 2010. He previously held the Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment and was President from 2002-2008.
An ecologist who worked in the Brazilian Amazon since 1965, he focused on the interface of science and environmental policy. Starting in the 1970’s he helped bring attention to the issue of tropical deforestation and in 1980 published the first estimate of global extinction rates (in the Global 2000 Report to the President). He conceived the idea for the long term study on forest fragmentation in the Amazon (started in 1978) which is the largest experiment in landscape ecology, the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems project (also known as the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project). He also coined the term “biological diversity,” originated the concept of debt-for-nature swaps and has worked on the interaction between climate change and biodiversity for more than 30 years.
He was the founder of the public television series “Nature.” He served as the Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations Foundation, as the Chief Biodiversity Advisor to the World Bank as well as Lead Specialist for the Environment for the Latin American region, as the Assistant Secretary for Environmental and External Affairs for the Smithsonian Institution, and as Executive Vice President of World Wildlife Fund-U.S.
In 2002, he was awarded the Tyler Prize, and in 2009 he was the winner of BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology Category. In 2012 he received the Blue Planet Prize. He has served on advisory councils in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations. In 2009 he was appointed Conservation Fellow by the National Geographic Society. He chaired the Scientific and Technical Panel for the Global Environment Facility which provides funding related to the international environmental conventions from 2009-2013 and served as Advisor to the Chair.
He received his B.S. and Ph.D. (Biology) from Yale University.