James M. Dietz
Founding Director

That long-term monitoring continues today and forms the scientific basis for a realistic management plan to remove golden lion tamarins from the endangered species list and to conserve a significant portion of their fragmented Atlantic Forest habitat and the ecological services it provides to local communities.  Other components of the program include captive breeding, genetic management of the wild population through reintroduction of captive-born tamarins, habitat restoration and community education and development.  

Jim is a Founding Director and Member of the Board of Directors of the Associação Mico Leão Dourado (Golden Lion Tamarin Association), the Brazilian organization that is carrying out this plan to conserve golden lion tamarins.  He is a Founding Director and Vice President of Save the Golden Lion Tamarin, a U.S. 501c3 public charity created to help its Brazilian partner organization achieve its conservation goals.  He is also a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution’s Conservation Biology Institute.

Also in Brazil, Jim was a coauthor on plans and proposals that resulted in the creation of the first Brazilian university Wildlife Biology degree program (Viçosa University), the Serra do Brigadeiro State Park in Minas Gerais State, the Pantanal National Park in Mato Grosso State, and União Biological Reserve in Rio de Janeiro State.  He was a collaborator on proposals that resulted in significant increases in the sizes of Poço das Antas and União Biological Reserves in Rio de Janeiro, and Una Biological Reserve in Bahia State.  The field research project he initiated on maned wolves in Minas Gerais State continues under Brazilian direction 25 years later.  In 2010 he was awarded the Medalha de Honra ao Mérito (Medal of Honor) by the Silva Jardim Municipal Council, Rio de Janeiro State, for his contributions educating the young people of this county about environmental conservation.

Jim was hired by the University of Maryland in 1988 to help develop the curriculum for the Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology MSc graduate program (CONS) and to serve as the program’s Associate Director.  Many of the 225 CONS graduates that Jim co-advised now work in conservation organizations in 30 countries.  Jim also developed and taught an undergraduate course in conservation biology and the CONS capstone course, Problem Solving in Conservation, in which senior CONS students act as pro bono consulting groups to professionals in dozens of local state, federal and nongovernmental organizations.  Jim also advised 24 undergraduate Honors students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in Biology and is author or co-author of over 120 scientific publications.  At U. Maryland he received the Instructional Unit Minority Achievement Award, Distinguished International Service Award, Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching and Curriculum Development, and a President’s Certificate of Service for his contributions as Chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.  In 2011, Jim retired as Professor of Biology and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies at U. Maryland to pursue his personal goal of ensuring that golden lion tamarins are conserved in perpetuity in their Atlantic Forest habitat in Brazil.