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On the Frontlines to Improve the Planet’s Resilience

This story previously appeared in Mason News in September 2019:

He’s a noted conservation biologist who has served three presidents and coined the term “biological diversity.”

Mason’s Thomas Lovejoy has enjoyed a brilliant career that spans the globe and places him among the world’s foremost experts on biodiversity within the Amazon. The Commonwealth of Virginia became the latest to formally recognize his work, honoring him as one of its two recipients for the 2019 Virginia Outstanding Scientist award. Lovejoy, Professor within college’s Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the scientific director for Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth (ISE), is the first Mason faculty member to receive the honor.


Lovejoy dedicated his career to conserving biotic diversity to sustain vital ecosystem functions and services. Under his leadership, Mason’s ISE brings together varying disciplines at Mason to conduct research, inform policy, and leverage university partnerships to make a positive impact on the world’s future, including issues related to climate change. In 2019, Mason honored Lovejoy with the Beck Presidential Medal for Excellence in Research and Scholarship for his outstanding research and mentorship of the next generation of environmental science and policy leaders. In 2017, Lovejoy donated his personal collection of books and papers from research conducted throughout his career to the now named Thomas E. Lovejoy Library at the
Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Virginia.

Lovejoy has been especially outspoken as of late in the wake of the uncontrolled fires raging in the Amazon, pointing out the region’s critical role in the fight against global climate change and its significance as the planet’s largest home to biodiversity.