Thomas E. Lovejoy, Ph.D., is an accomplished conservation biologist and ecologist, and has dedicated his life to advancing and applying science to advance work in biodiversity and climate change. The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) is honored to recognize Dr. Lovejoy with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to environment and health.
NCSE’S Lifetime Achievement Award is a prestigious annual recognition of individuals who significantly contribute to environmental science and improving environmental decision-making. Past recipients of this award have been world-renowned leaders in the fields of science, policy, and the environment. Each awarded individual has dedicated his or her career to advancing science for the public good, and has made a substantial and recognizable contribution to his or her respective field of environmental science. Dr. Thomas Lovejoy has done this and more.
Dr. Lovejoy has worked on the interaction between climate change and biodiversity for more than 20 years. He began his work in the Brazilian Amazon in 1965, and in the late 1970’s he conceived the idea for the long term study on forest fragmentation in the Amazon. This largely successful project is the largest experiment in landscape ecology. In 1980, Dr. Lovejoy published the first estimate of global extinction rates (in the Global 2000 Report to the President). He was also the first to describe the concept of debt-for-nature swaps in the 1980’s.
A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Lovejoy was elected University Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University in March, 2010. He serves as a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. He also chairs the Scientific and Technical Panel for the Global Environment Facility, which provides funding related to the international environmental conventions.
Dr. Lovejoy believes that “fundamentally, ours is a positive agenda, a dream of a glorious coexistence with a planet teeming with life.” He has worked towards this dream at many prestigious organizations throughout his career, including as: President of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations Foundation; Chief Biodiversity Advisor and Lead Specialist for the Environment for the Latin American region for the World Bank; Assistant Secretary for Environmental and External Affairs for the Smithsonian Institution; and Executive Vice President of World Wildlife Fund-US.
With his ideas of conservation biology at his core, Dr. Lovejoy’s goal is to convince the government and the public at large we need to manage the planet as a coupled physical and biological system. To that end, he served on advisory councils in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations.
Dr. Lovejoy strongly believes “humans are [sic] inevitably connected to the rest of life on earth – whether it’s through ecosystem services, or whether it’s through some direct product that we are taking from nature.” This belief led him to found the public television series Nature, which has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film community, parent groups, and environmental organizations. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Tyler Prize in 2002 and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology Category in 2009.
Dr. Lovejoy will receive the NCSE Lifetime Achievement Award at NCSE 2017, the 17th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment.
Dr. Lovejoy giving a lecture on the Amazon at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Video courtesy the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.