Les Kaufman has been an aquarium hobbyist since 1964, beginning with guppies and progressing rapidly to cichlids and marine fishes. In 1968 he helped to found and write The Marine Aquarist magazine. Les began field research and ocean eXploration in 1974, resulting in a career studyiNg evolution, ecology, and conservation of coral reefs and the Great Lakes of Africa. After college, Les moved to Boston, worked for three years on cichlids, damselfishes and wrasses with Professor Karel Liem at Harvard.
In 1983, he joined The New England Aquarium, for eleven years leading the education programs, special exhibit R&D,and finally serving as Chief Scientist. He led the Lake Victoria Research Team from 1989 - 1996, co-founded the first Species Survival Plans (SSPs) for the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (including one for Lake Victoria cichlids), and worked WIth The World Bank to create LVEMP, a global environmental facility restoration project for Lake Victoria.
Since 1994, Les has been with the Boston University Marine Program teaches courses on marine science and conservation, and develops science to support marine ecosystem-based management. He served as Principal Investigator for Marine Management Area Science with Conservation International, leading a network of large-scale coral reef conservation experiments in Brazil. Belize, Panama, and Fiji. The MMAS project included studies of how corals respond to stress, diagnostics for coral reef health, and how coral reefs regenerate from pollution and global climate change. Les currently serves on the Leadership Team for the Coral Restoration Consortium, a global effort to maintain coral reefs in some form during the several centuries required for people to arrest and reverse the accumulation of heat-trapping gas due to the burning of fossil fuels that is the cause of anthropogenic climate change. (Human-caused climate change is the principal reason for the global die-off of coral reefs).
Les writes for National Geographic, Ranger Rick, and other popular publications and has worked on a variety of nature films and science education programs for television. He was the first Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation (www.pewoceanscience.org/fellowssite/ellows.php).
- Shaping the Aquarium Hobby and Profession into a Force for Conservation
- East African Cichlids--Conservation and Societal Impact