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Atmospheric science

Mason Environmental Science Professors Honored for Contributions to Science

Two of George Mason University’s internationally acclaimed environmental professors are being recognized for their outstanding scholarship.

Biologist Thomas Lovejoy is receiving the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service this week for his conservation work. The public service award is given to people “who have served with distinction in public life and have shown a special commitment to seeking out informed opinions and thoughtful views,” according to the center.

Jagadish Shukla will be named an Honorary Member of the American Meteorological Society. It is the highest honor the organization bestows on its members and is given to “persons of acknowledged preeminence in the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences, either through their own contributions to the sciences or their application, or through furtherance of the advance of those sciences in some other way.”

Shukla previously had received the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, the meteorological society’s highest research award.

Lovejoy, who coined the term “biodiversity,” is the first scientist to receive the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the nonpartisan policy forum. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars was chartered by the U.S. Congress as a memorial to the 28th president. Past honorees include U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), entertainer Dolly Parton and astronaut John Glenn.

“This is wonderful recognition of the importance of sustainability in the modern agenda,” said Lovejoy, who made his first trip to the Amazon 50 years ago this summer.

Sustainability is the theme for this year’s awards because of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris—which both Lovejoy and Shukla have been invited to attend.

Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute, cited Lovejoy’s influential work on conservation in Brazil and throughout the world as the reason why he was selected. The Brazil Institute is part of the Woodrow Wilson Center and is presenting the award.

“Tom started working in the Amazon in the 1960s,” Sotero said. “In the 1970s he started the first laboratory of habitat fragmentation. This laboratory is a landmark of studies in the Amazon.”

George Mason and the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute work together for a series called “Managing Our Planet,” which brings together leading regional and global experts to discuss international scale problems and how to solve them.

Andre Esteves, chief executive and chair of BTG Pactual in Brazil, is receiving the center’s corporate citizenship award.

This article originally appeared on Mason News.

Write to Michele McDonald at