Thomas E. Lovejoy, a tropical biologist and conservation biologist, is generally credited with bringing the tropical forest problem to the fore as a public issue. President of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, he has worked in the Amazon in Brazil since 1965. He was the first person to use the term biological diversity (in 1980) and made the first projection of global extinction rates in the Global 2000 Report to the President that same year. He conceived the idea for the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems Project (also known as the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project), which is designed to define the minimum size for national parks and biological reserves. For this work and many conservation initiatives in Brazil, in 1988 he became the first environmentalist to receive the Order of Rio Branco from the Brazilian government. He is also the originator of the innovative concept of dept-for-nature swaps and the founder of the public television series Nature.
From 1973 to 1987 he directed the program of the World Wildlife Fund of the United States and from 1985 to 1987 served as the fund’s executive vice president. In 1987 he was appointed assistant secretary for environmental and external affairs of the Smithsonian Institution and in September, 1994 became counselor to the secretary for biodiversity and environmental affairs. In 1998 he became chief biodiversity adviser for the World Bank as well as lead specialist for the environment for the Latin American region. He is past president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, past chair of the United States Man and Biosphere Program, and past president of the Society for Conservation Biology. He has BS and PhD degrees in biology from Yale University.