Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies External Advisory Board Chair, Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, has received another distinguished award celebrating his extraordinary contributions to our planet. CONGRATULATIONS, Tom!
Mason Environmentalist Awarded Blue Planet Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Conservation
Fairfax, Va., June 17, 2012—Thomas Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, was awarded the 21st annual Blue Planet Prize, the international environmental award sponsored by the Asahi Glass Foundation in Japan.
The Blue Planet prizes are awarded to individuals or organizations each year that make outstanding achievements in scientific research and its application in helping to solve global environmental problems. Lovejoy accepted the award during a press conference in Rio on June 17.
He received the award for pioneering work in biodiversity science and conservation, including how human-caused habitat fragmentation causes biodiversity loss..
“It's a pleasure to join in congratulating both our esteemed faculty member and the commitments to biodiversity which he so ably represents,” says Peter Stearns, Provost of George Mason University. “His work is a central part of our larger educational and research program on sustainability.”
Lovejoy’s career spans multiple decades and includes many creative and important contributions to research on the severe impact of land use on biodiversity and ecosystems. He began his career in the mid-60s, researching ecosystems in the Amazon rainforest. This led to the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, the largest long-term experiment in the history of landscape ecology. Now in its 33rd year, the project was responsible for showing that fragmentation of animal habitats is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, along with climate change.
Lovejoy was one of the first to point out that the Amazon rainforest was in crisis and was a pioneer in educating the public of this problem. His work in policy included the first published projection of global extinction rates.
Lovejoy also developed “debt-for-nature swaps,” in which a portion of a nation’s foreign debt is forgiven in exchange for investments in conservation. Debt-for-nature swaps are now among the largest sources of financing to support international environmental projects.
Lovejoy has been decorated twice by Brazil and in 2011, along with other environmentalists, was awarded the first Joao Pedro Cardoso Medal of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, for his work worldwide in conservation and environmental policy.
“I am delighted by the recognition of the importance of biological diversity. I am also humbled and honored to become a Blue Planet Prize Laureate and thereby join so many distinguished Laureates since the inception of the prize,” says Lovejoy. “Much of what I am being honored for was achieved in collaboration with others, so I salute and thank them for their help and inspiration.”
Two Blue Planet Prizes are awarded each year, one to an individual and the other to an organization. The other recipients were William Rees (Canada) and Mathis Wackernagel (Switzerland) for their development and advancement of the Ecological Footprint, a comprehensive accounting system for comparing human demand on ecosystems to ecosystems' capacity to self-renew.
Third Member of Yale Class of 2012 wins Gates Scholarship Chidiebere (Chidi) Akusobi.
Recent Yale College graduate Chidiebere (Chidi) Akusobi has received a Gates Scholarship to continue his studies in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge.
A native of Nigeria, Akusobi grew up in the Bronx, New York, and majored in evolutionary biology at Yale. He is interested in studying how certain viruses, known as phages, attack bacteria. After earning his M.Phil. degree at Cambridge, Akusobi intends to pursue an M.D./Ph.D.
"I'm particularly interested in antibiotic resistance and novel approaches to treating bacterial diseases. As an
M.D., I look forward to translating my research to the bedside," says Akusobi in his biography on the Gates
The biography also cites Akusobi’s dedication to bringing science to inner-city public school children as well as his interest in playwriting and performing. At Yale he worked with New Haven students on science projects, taught playwriting to children in the 9th grade, and was a member of an undergraduate dance group. Two Yale students, Sarah Armitage and Harry McNamara, were awarded Gates scholarships earlier this year.
Two Yale students, Sarah Armitage and Harry McNamara, were awarded Gates scholarships earlier this year.
The Gates Foundation does two rounds of competition: an earlier one for U.S. candidates and a later one for
international candidates. Although now a U.S. citizen, Akusobi was considered in the second category since he applied as a Nigerian citizen.
The Gates Cambridge Scholarship was established by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for scholars of
outstanding academic merit and leadership potential from outside the United Kingdom to study at the University of Cambridge.