Tribute to Professor Georgina Mace DBE FRS (1953-2020)
Sussex alumna and honorary doctorand Professor Dame Georgina Mace passed away on 19 September 2020.
Colleagues at the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme remember her as a friend, colleague and mentor, and pay tribute to her here.
The Sussex Sustainability Research Programme and our collaborators around the world are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the passing of Professor Dame Georgina Mace, CBE FRS, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems at University College London and Director of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research.
She received her PhD in Biology from the University of Sussex in 1979 for work on the evolutionary ecology of small mammals and was awarded an honorary DSc by the University in 2007 for her pioneering research on biodiversity.
Georgina has been one of the world’s most respected voices in conservation science. Throughout her career Georgina continued working on documenting biodiversity declines, developing tools to implement science-based policies to combat this loss and advising decision makers. She was instrumental in defining the quantitative criteria behind the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. By developing the ecological parameters of extinction risk, Georgina helped transform the list from experts’ subjective recommendations, to the world’s most comprehensive and rigorous information source on the global extinction risk on more than 120,000 species.
Georgina made outstanding contributions towards international environmental assessments, including coordinating the biodiversity elements of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), designing the methodology used in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2011), and the Global Assessment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an intergovernmental organisation established to improve the interface between science and policy on issues of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and served as its overall Review Editor in 2019.
The numerous honours and awards, from President of the British Ecological Society, President of the Society for Conservation Biology, Fellow of the Royal Society, the 2007 International Cosmos Prize, the 2016 Heineken Prize for Environmental Science and the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award for Ecology and Conservation Biology, to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire – to mention just a few – reflect her tremendous contributions to science and policy.
However, they do not reflect her kindness, integrity, wisdom, warmth, and modesty. Despite her multiple roles and obligations, she always made time to support and mentor younger colleagues.
Georgina cared about her alma mater, providing helpful guidance and support when we were setting up the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme. We were delighted and honoured when Georgina delivered the inaugural lecture to launch the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme in 2016 on the topic, “How do we think about conservation, and who is it for?”.
A truly committed and highly influential conservationist and a dear friend to many at Sussex, her death is a tremendous loss for conservation and the natural world, as well as the many colleagues and students whose work she informed and continues to inspire.
Our deepest condolences go out to Georgina’s family and friends.
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