WASHINGTON (Aug. 30, 2016)—The National Geographic Society today announced the appointment of Dr. Jonathan Baillie to the new role of chief scientist and senior vice president, grants, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Baillie joins the Society from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), where he has served in various capacities since 2003, including his current role as conservation programmes director. In this position, Baillie is responsible for conservation projects focusing on threatened species and their habitats in more than 50 countries.
At the Society, Baillie will lead grantmaking in the areas of science and exploration across a variety of disciplines, serve as vice chair of the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration and be part of the organization’s senior leadership team. He will report to Executive Vice President, Chief Program and Impact Officer Brooke Runnette.
“Dr. Baillie is a global authority on the world’s most threatened species — from their status to the trends impacting them — and he has played a significant part in the effort to document their state in some of the most influential publications,” said Runnette. “He joins the National Geographic Society at a transformative moment in our 128-year history and will greatly contribute to our ability to push the boundaries of science and exploration to further our understanding of our planet and to connect our innovators around the globe to storytelling assets that reach more than 700 million people worldwide.”
In addition to his role at ZSL, Baillie founded the EDGE of Existence program, which focuses on Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species. He is co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) National Red List Working Group and co-chair of the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group. Baillie helped initiate United for Wildlife, led by the Duke of Cambridge, a collaboration of seven of the most influential conservation organizations working to address illegal wildlife trade at scale. He is also a visiting professor of zoology at the University of Oxford.
“I am proud to be joining the National Geographic Society because I believe it has the greatest potential to drive fundamental change through public engagement and education, empowering people everywhere to respond to some of the most challenging environmental issues of the 21st century,” said Baillie. “No other single organization has the unique combination of exceptional public engagement, robust science and a commitment to capacity building.”
Baillie completed his undergraduate studies at Queen’s University in Canada and received a master’s degree in conservation biology at Yale University and a Ph.D. in biology at Silwood Park, Imperial College London. His extensive fieldwork includes research and monitoring of western lowland gorillas in Gabon; developing ecotourism sites in Central Africa; monitoring rare endemic birds in the Gulf of Guinea; and behavioral studies of desert baboons in Namibia.
“After an extensive global search, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Baillie to the National Geographic Society,” said Gary E. Knell, the organization’s president and chief executive officer. “He will be central to our work with the Society’s Explorers and grant recipients — a network of bold individuals with transformative ideas — who are changing the world each and every day. I look forward to working with Dr. Baillie to expand our global presence and to harness his incredible expertise.”
Baillie’s additional accomplishments include: co-leading Project Ocean with Alannah Weston of Selfridges to promote sustainable fishing; structuring the first Rhino Impact Investment to raise funds at scale for the protection needs of rhinos; and developing InstantWild, a camera trap that uses remote monitoring systems to automatically send wildlife images to a large network of citizen scientists for identification.