Michael Mascia, the senior director of social science for the nonprofit Conservation International, has been named board president for the Society for Conservation Biology, the field’s pre-eminent professional society.
Conservation International’s senior writer, James Anderson, noted that Mascia is the first social scientist to lead the society in its 32-year history. “His appointment marks a milestone in environmental science — part of a long evolution away from strictly natural sciences and toward an interdisciplinary understanding of how people and nature interact,” he said.
Mascia is also the first scientist with a marine conservation background to hold this position. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and European studies from Bowdoin in 1993, and earned a PhD from Duke University in environmental politics and policy in 2000.
In a recently published Q&A, Mascia noted, “We live on a human-dominated planet. People are defining what the future will look like, for better or for worse. Thus, conservation is an inherently social process with social implications. It’s not just what we conserve but how we conserve it that matters.”
The Society for Conservation Biology is the world’s largest professional society for conservation students and professionals who are dedicated to the science and practice of conserving biological diversity. The society publishes the scientific journals Conservation Biology, the flagship journal in its field since 1987, and Conservation Letters. It also hosts the International Congress for Conservation Biology, a global forum for addressing conservation challenges and for presenting and discussing new research and developments in conservation science and practice.
Conservation International, where Mascia has worked since 2014, has for the past three decades worked to protect nature around the world. It employes more than 1,000 people, and works with 2,000 partners in 30 countries. It has helped protect more than 601 million hectares of land, marine, and coastal areas.
Before working for Conservation International, Mascia was director of social science at the World Wildlife Fund, where he worked for nine years, and social scientist and policy analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency, where he worked for four years.