Kamaljit Bawa, and evolutionary ecologist and conservation biologist is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Founder-President of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), one of India’s top-ranked environmental think tanks, based in Bengaluru. He was born in Kapurthala, India, and got his graduate degrees (Masters and Ph.D ) from Punjab University, India. He served as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Washington, Seattle. Among the many awards he has received are: Bullard Fellowship at Harvard University (1972, 2009) Guggenheim Fellowship (1987), Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment (1992), Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowship at Harvard University (2009), the Gunnerus Prize in Sustainability Science from the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences (2012), the international MIDORI Prize in Biodiversity (2014), the Linnean Medal (2018), and honorary doctorates from the University of Alberta (2014) and Concordia University in Montreal(2019). He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2012), the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences (2012), the Royal Society (2015), the American Philosophical Society (2019), and the National Academy of Sciences. Kamal Bawa is founding Editor-in Chief of two interdisciplinary journals: Conservation and Society and Ecology, Economy and Society.

Research Interests

Kamaljit Bawa is known for his work on the ecology conservation, and sustainable use of tropical forests. His groundbreaking work elucidated the role of unique reproductive systems in the origin and maintenance of tree diversity in tropical forests. He discovered new breeding systems, flowering patterns and pollination mechanisms that led him to proposed new hypotheses about the evolution of breeding systems, and speciation in tropical trees. Kamaljit Bawa identified drivers of deforestation in the tropics, examined the impact of deforestation on genetic diversity of trees, and developed methods to manage tropical forests for sustainable extraction of non-timber forest tree species. Kamaljit Bawa also established the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) in India, now ranked among the 20 environmental think tanks of the world. Moreover, he developed strategic plans for conservation in biodiversity hotspots, identified priorities for biodiversity science in the tropics, and a national mission on biodiversity and human well-being in India that could serve as a global model for conserving biodiversity. His current work is focused on approaches and institutions needed to address global sustainability challenges.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 64: Human Environmental Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology