Les Kaufman

Professor of Biology

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PhD, Johns Hopkins University, 1980

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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… Read more

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 Senior Marine Scientist for Conservation International, a Research Scholar with The New England Aquarium and Associate in Ichthyology, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. He serves on the Science and Statistics Committee for the New England Fishery Management Council, and is working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) colleagues to modernize federal ocean science.

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, was selected to receive the Parker-Gentry Award in Conservation Biology for 2011 from the Chicago Field Museum.

In the Media

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  • Amelia Earhart: Has a scrap of metal solved one of the world’s great mysteries?

    October 30, 2014

    Christian Science Monitor Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences A scrap of aluminum found on a Pacific atoll may be the best evidence yet that Amelia Earhart was able to land her aircraft as it was running out of fuel, surviving for time before disappearing into history and speculation… Expert quote: “It seems plausible. […]

  • Amelia Earhart Plane Fragment May Have Been Identified

    October 30, 2014

    Huffington Post Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences After decades of looking, researchers say they may finally have found a bit of wreckage from Amelia Earhart’s plane… Expert quote: “It seems plausible. I have been impressed with Ric Gillespie, who seems to me to be an honest broker, a knowledgable enthusiast, and generally cautious […]

  • Cuba gets fishery management advice in Provincetown

    October 20, 2014

    Cape Cod Times Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences It might seem odd: Cuban fisheries managers and scientists seated around a table in this fabled but faded Cape Cod fishing port, sharing their stories of managing crocodiles, manatees and reef fish while trying to absorb the successes and failures of the New England fisheries… […]

  • In a briny preserve, fish and controversy thrive

    July 13, 2014

    Boston Globe (subscription required) Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences For thousands of years, the jagged rocks of a submerged mountain range about 80 miles off the coast of Gloucester have preserved one of the region’s most distinct marine habitats. The frigid waters and glacier-sculpted peaks are home to a billowy kelp forest and […]

  • Devil rays are shockingly fast and deep divers

    July 1, 2014

    National Geographic Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences The Chilean devil ray is one heck of a swimmer—the fish make surprisingly fast and deep dives into the Atlantic Ocean, a new study says… Expert quote: “The discovery that they dive and forage so deep and so regularly, reinforces a slowly growing sense that open ocean creatures […]

  • Vibrant Cambodian lake may face less-fishy future

    June 26, 2014

    PBS NewsHour Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences Tonle Sap Lake is one of the most productive freshwater ecosystems in the world. But overfishing, climate change and plans to build a hydropower dams could threaten the animals that make their home in the body of water known as the beating heart of Cambodia… View […]

  • The giving flood

    June 11, 2014

    Virginia Quarterly Review Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences Lake Tonle Sap, Cambodia’s “beating heart,” is threatened by the competing needs of a rapidly developing nation. Can a new kind of conservation save it?… Expert quote: “Having these models and putting the data together and seeing all the ways you can play the game […]

  • Will Amelia Earhart Help Unlock Secrets of Climate Change

    June 10, 2014

    Huffington Post Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences A search for Amelia Earhart may wind up contributing to science’s understanding of global climate change, according to plans announced June 3rd by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR)… Expert quote: “The key is that these corals have most likely been undisturbed. We think […]

  • Cambodia’s declining catch

    June 10, 2014

    New York Times Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences The Tonle Sap, one of the world’s most productive freshwater ecosystems, is in trouble. A group of researchers is working with local fishermen to figure out how to save it… View video featuring expert Les Kaufman

  • Climate-change adaptation: Designer reefs

    April 24, 2014

    Nature Les Kaufman, College of Arts & Sciences Biologists are directing the evolution of corals to prepare them to fight climate change… View full article quoting expert Les Kaufman

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