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Thomas E. Lovejoy

Thomas E. Lovejoy was elected University Professor at George Mason in March 2010. He was also President of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment from 2002-2008. Currently, he serves as Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and is a Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at George Mason University.


An ecologist who has worked in the Brazilian Amazon since 1965, he works 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 20 years. He is the founder of the public television series “Nature”.


In the past, he served as the Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations Foundation, as the Chief Biodiversity Advisor and Lead Specialist for the Environment for the Latin American region for the World Bank, as the Assistant Secretary for Environmental and External Affairs for the Smithsonian Institution, and as Executive Vice President of World Wildlife Fund-US. In 2002, he was awarded the The Tyler Prize, and in 2009 he was the winner of BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology Category. 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 chairs the Scientific and Technical Panel for the Global Environment Facility which provides funding related to the international environmental conventions. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. (Biology) from Yale University.

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