Professor Don J. Melnick, an internationally renowned teacher and scientist, died April 18, 2019. 

Dr. Melnick worked closely with many of us at the Wildlife Conservation Society as he created the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation at Columbia University, a consortium including WCS, the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Wildlife Trust (now EcoHealth Alliance). 

Many on the WCS staff also worked closely with Dr. Melnick through links with Columbia’s Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, which he helped to create. Through education and science, particularly environmental biology, Dr. Melnick leaves behind a legacy which will forever inform how we protect nature. 

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Mary C. Pearl, a biologist and the dean of the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. Dr. Pearl served as the first director of WCS’s Asia Program. Together, Dr. Melnick and Dr. Pearl have worked on some of the most pressing issues facing our planet.

Those concerns are evident in this op-ed from the New York Times last year on the impact of climate change and human behavior that are causing the massive wildfires destroying the world’s forests. 

Read a tribute to Dr. Melnick from Columbia University HERE.