Faculty & Staff

Kamaljit Bawa, PhD

Professor of Biology - Conservation Biology.


Areas of Expertise

Conservation Biology


PhD, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India, 1967.
MS (Honors), Punjab University, Chandigarh, India, 1962.
BS (Honors), Punjab University, Chandigarh, India, 1960.
BS, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India, 1958.

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

Brief Biography

Kamal Bawa is Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Founder-President of the Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) that has been ranked as #18 globally and  #2 in Asia among the world’s environment think tanks. Professor Bawa obtained his PhD from the Botany Department, Punjab University, Chandigarh. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and 11 authored or edited books and monographs. Among the many awards he has received are: Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (2009), Charles Bullard (twice 1972, 2010) and Maria Moore Cabot Fellowships (1973) at Harvard University, Guggenheim Fellowship (1987), Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment (1992), the world’s first prize in sustainability--the Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science from the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences (2012), and the international MIDORI Prize in Biodiversity (2014) from the Aeon Foundation in Japan at the United Nations Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The two professional societies in his field, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, and Society for Conservation Biology has bestowed on him their highest awards. The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation elected him as its President and then as an Honorary Fellow; he has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology. The University of Massachusetts Boston has honored him twice: he has received the Chancellor’s Award for distinction in scholarship as well as the Chancellor’s Award for distinction in professional service. In 2014, the University of Alberta honored him by conferring an honorary doctor of science degree. Kamal Bawa is an elected fellow of several science academies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2012), the Royal Norwegian Society of Letters and Sciences (2012), and Royal Society of London (2015). He has headed or served on a number scientific panels, and he currently serves on the governing boards of several national and international organizations.  His second coffee-table book, Himalaya: Mountains of Life, a sequel to Sahyadris: India’s Western Ghats was published in January 2013. www.kbawa.com

Research Interests

Kamal Bawa is interested in global change and biodiversity. The overarching theme is to generate knowledge about the impact of land use and land cover change, as well as climate change and human use of natural resources on biodiversity. He is particularly interested in developing new paradigms of conservation that take into account alleviation of poverty and institutions. His research on climate change in the Eastern Himalayas is focused on modeling climate change, impact of climate change on biodiversity and agriculture, and development of adaptive strategies that assign a central role to local knowledge. Research on sustainable use of ecosystem services including such provisioning services as non-timber forest products constitute an important element of the overall global change program.

He has recently led an initiative to define research priorities in tropical biology. He has also been a part of DIVERSITAS team that has developed a science plan for agrobiodiversity. At the regional level, he has led efforts to define research priorities in the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot.

Since he founded the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), and cofounded the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Environment and Development (CISED), which later merged with ATREE, he is particularly interested in institutional building to foster conservation and sustainability science.

Finally, he still pursues his basic interests in plant population biology. He is currently writing a book, synthesizing his work on the impact of land use and climate change on genetics and reproductive traits of plants.