Russell A. Mittermeier has been President of Conservation International since 1989. A primatologist and herpetologist by training, he has traveled widely in over a hundred countries, and conducted fieldwork in more than twenty – much of it focused on Suriname, Madagascar and the Amazonian and Atlantic Forest regions of Brazil.
In addition to his work at Conservation International, he also serves as Chairman of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, which he has led since 1977. For the past twenty-seven years he has held the position of Adjunct Professor at the State University of New York, and since 1996 he has also been the President of the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation. Since 2001, he has served as Special Envoy for Great Apes with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and in November 2004 he was elected as IUCN’s Regional Councillor for North America and the Caribbean.
He has published more than 400 scientific and popular articles and 15 books, including the trilogy Megadiversity, Hotspots and Wilderness, as well as the recent titles Wildlife Spectacles, Hotspots Revisited, Pantanal and Transboundary Conservation. Among the awards he has received are the Gold Medal of the San Diego Zoological Society (1988), the Order of the Golden Ark of the Netherlands (1995), the Cincinnati Zoo Wildlife Conservation Award (1997), the Brazilian Muriqui ABD Prize (1997), the Grand Sash and Order of the Yellow Star of the Republic of Suriname (1998), the Order of the Southern Cross of the Brazilian Government (1998), and the Aldo Leopold Award from the American Society of Mammalogists (2004). In December 1998, he was selected by Time magazine as one of its Ecoheroes for the Planet.
In addition to English, Mittermeier is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, German, French and Sranan Tongo, the Creole language of Suriname.
He graduated from Dartmouth College (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in 1971, and received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University in 1977.