ESP Professor Dr. Thomas Lovejoy reflects on 50 Years of Amazon Research – Mason News

ESP Professor Dr. Thomas Lovejoy

ESP Professor Dr. Thomas Lovejoy

A high school biology class was all it took to set renowned ecologist and George Mason University professor Thomas Lovejoy down a path that led him to the Amazon in Brazil and changed environmental research.

Lovejoy’s 36-year Amazon project looks at habitat “islands” or fragments, and has spurred new generations of ecologists. The project was called “the greatest ecology experiment of all time” by noted Duke University biologist Stuart Pimm. Lovejoy also coined the term “biodiversity” and helped start the influential TV series, “Nature.” He pioneered “debt-for-nature” swaps, where environmental groups leverage international debt for conservation projects.

Lovejoy works with Mason graduate students as well as giving lectures at Mason. He teaches a graduate course in the spring called “Challenges in Biodiversity,” which helps students begin to learn how to solve real-world problems in biodiversity.

He joined Mason in 2010.

“I chose Mason because of its flexibility as a young university and because of understanding at all leadership levels­­––College of Science, the provost and the president—of the central importance of biodiversity and sustainability,” Lovejoy said.

Teachers guided the early days of Lovejoy’s journey. Then 14 years old, Lovejoy had no idea a biology class at Millbrook School in Dutchess County, N.Y., would make all the difference.

“With enormous foresight I said, ‘I’ll take biology the first year and get it over with,’” joked Lovejoy. Now 73, he’s a University Professor in Mason’s Environmental Science and Policy Department, a fellow at the United Nations Foundation and is National Geographic’s first Conservation Fellow.

Read the full article from the Mason NewsDesk on 6/17/2015…