Mongabay Features

Conservation biology loses a leader: Navjot Sodhi, 1962-2011

Over the weekend I received very sad and unexpected news: my friend Navjot Sodhi, a scientist whose mentorship and research made him a leader in the field of conservation biology, died after a short battle with an aggressive blood cancer. He was 49.

Navjot leaves behind his wife Charanjit, children Ada and Darwin, and bevy of friends, colleagues, and admirers.

Navjot’s contributions to conservation biology were substantial. He authored or co-authored more that 100 academic papers in journals ranging from Nature to Science to Auk; wrote or edited six books; and mentored a generation of young scientists who are already making significant contributions to science.

Navjot’s recent research has focused on biodiversity and extinction, especially in the tropics, but over his career he worked on a broad range of conservation biology questions. At times, his work was provocative, in one case raising the ire of Singapore’s government when he ranked the city-state dead last on environmental performance among 178 countries. That paper might have cost a lesser scientist his visa.


By Rhett Ayers Butler

Rhett Ayers Butler is the Founder and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. He started Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife.