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Professor of Biology, Boston University, Boston University

Les Kaufman, Professor in the Boston University Marine Program, is an evolutionary ecologist who studies basic processes that drive the creation, collapse, and conservation of aquatic species diversity on coral reefs and tropical great lakes. His interests are increasingly turned toward clinical research on the dynamics of human-natural coupled systems, to create supporting science for global sustainability and climate change adaptation.

His current research focuses on adaptive management of populated coastal ecosystems, taking an experimental approach to marine management areas; dynamic modeling and forecasting of ecosystem service production and trade-offs; genomics as a tool to diagnose organismal response to the combined effects of local and global human stressors; and hybrid models examining the effects of dams and climate change on food security in Africa, Asia, and South America.

In addition to being a member of the BU faculty, Kaufman is Marine Conservation Fellow with Conservation International, a Research Scholar with The New England Aquarium, and Associate in Ichthyology, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. He also works with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) colleagues in various capacities to advance federal ocean science. As a hobby, he has long been fascinated with plants, especially rainforest trees, which he has also done field research and published on.

Kaufman also writes popular books, magazine articles and television, including multiple stints as either author or subject with NOVA and National Geographic. He was awarded the first marine Pew Fellowship in 1990, and was selected to receive the Parker-Gentry Award in Conservation Biology for 2011 from the Chicago Field Museum.

Work History: 1978-1980, Chesapeake Bay Institute, Johns Hopkins University; 1980-1983, Harvard University; 1983-1994, New England Aquarium; 1994-present, Boston University


  • 1994–2020
    Professor of Biology, Boston University
  • 2002–2020
    Marine Conservation Fellow (and other positions), Conservation International
  • 1994–2020
    Affiliate Scientist (and other positions), New England Aquarium
  • 1983–1994
    Chief Scientist (and earlier positions), New England Aquarium
  • 1980–1983
    Postdoctoral Affiliate, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University


Pew Fellow in Conservation and the Environment, 1990. Parker-Gentry Award in Conservation Biology, 2011.