2017 Tyler Laureate

Dr. José Sarukhán Kermez

José Sarukhán Kermez, photo credit: Andrea Valencia
  • Among the best-known ecologists and conservation scientists globally.
  • Published almost 200 papers in leading peer-reviewed journals, and more than 15 books.
  • He is a Foreign Member of US Academy of Sciences, as well as a Member of the Royal Society of London and The World Academy of Sciences.

Received his Master of Science at Chapingo Autonomous University (Mexico)
His Master’s thesis was, at the time, the most thorough analysis of plant communities in Mexico’s rainforests, and became the basis for the book, ‘The Tropical Trees of Mexico’.

Received his doctorate at the University of Wales (UK)
The advances he pioneered in plant population ecology are considered classic work in ecology, cited not only in the specialized literature, but in general ecology textbooks today.

He founded the Ecology Research Institute at the National Autonomous University of Mexico(UNAM). He served as its Director from 1979 - 1986.

He designed UNAM’s Ecology PhD program, which now boasts hundreds of graduates, many of whom are new serving in leadership positions globally.

In 1989, during a period of organizational crisis at UNAM, Sarukhán became the University’s Rector (the institute’s highest-ranking office, equivalent to a University President in the US). He successfully corrected the course of UNAM and served in this role for eight years.

In 1992, he established UNAM’s Science Museum Universum. The first of its kind in Latin America; it now receives over 1.5 million visitors annually.

In 1992, he was able to convince then-President of Mexico to create a federal-level agency in charge of inventorying the biodiversity of Mexico, for conservation and sustainable use. CONABIO is an obligate participant in decisions about Mexico’s environmental protection, forestry, fisheries, agriculture and international policy. CONABIO is now a powerful institution with over 200 employees and a budget of over US $20 million /year.

His son, Arturo Sarukhan, was Mexico's ambassador to the United States until 2013.


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