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Mason’s Thomas Lovejoy honored as a 2019 Virginia Outstanding Scientist

September 4, 2019   /   by John Hollis

University Professor Thomas Lovejoy has been named Virginia's 2019 Outstanding Scientist. Photo by Lathan Goumas.

George Mason University professor Thomas Lovejoy was among five people honored by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday as 2019 Outstanding STEM Award recipients.

Lovejoy, a University Professor within the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the scientific director for Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth, is a noted conservation biologist and the first Mason professor to receive the award from the commonwealth.

He was selected for being one of the founders of the thriving scientific field of conservation biology and discovering the potentially devastating effects of global warming on biodiversity. His lifelong work highlights the importance of conserving biotic diversity to sustain vital ecosystem functions and services. He was recognized with Mason’s Beck Presidential Medal for Excellence in Research and Scholarship in 2018 for his outstanding research and mentorship of the next generation of environmental science and policy leaders.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the commonwealth and be the first of what I anticipate will be a number of George Mason scientists highlighted in this way,” Lovejoy said.

The recipients were selected for their scientific contributions, which help strengthen Virginia’s current and future position as a leader in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Information about the five winners is available in this press release from the governor’s office.

“Virginia has a distinguished record as one of the best states in the STEM disciplines, and that is because of the talent, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit of scientists, students, and educators like those we are honoring with this year’s awards,” Northam said in a statement. “I am proud to continue the tradition of celebrating the tremendous achievements of these Virginians, and thank them for their contributions to these important fields.”

Virginia has been recognizing excellence across the commonwealth with the Outstanding STEM Award for more than 30 years. This year’s honorees will receive their awards at the Science Museum of Virginia on Thursday, Sept. 26.

“Educators, scientists, and students who inspire others to learn enrich our schools, laboratories, classrooms, and communities,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni in a statement. “I am excited to honor the achievements of these five exemplary individuals who have strengthened STEM education in the commonwealth through their research and service.”