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National Geographic Leadership

Jonathan Baillie

Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President, Science and Exploration

Picture of Jonathan Baillie

Photograph by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

Jonathan Baillie is the Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President Science & Exploration at the National Geographic Society. Baillie leads grant-making in the areas of science and exploration across a variety of disciplines and serves as vice chair of the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. Baillie joined the Society after 14 years at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), where he served in various capacities, most recently as Conservation Programmes Director. As director, Baillie was responsible for conservation projects focusing on threatened species and their habitats in more than 50 countries.

Among his achievements at ZSL, Baillie founded the EDGE of Existence program, which focuses on Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species. Additionally, he has served as co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) National Red List Working Group and co-chair of the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group. Baillie helped initiate United for Wildlife, led by the Duke of Cambridge, a collaboration of seven of the most influential conservation organizations working to address illegal wildlife trade at scale. He has also been a visiting professor of zoology at the University of Oxford.

Baillie completed his undergraduate studies at Queen’s University in Canada and received a master’s degree in conservation biology at Yale University and a Ph.D. in biology at Silwood Park, Imperial College London. His extensive fieldwork includes research and monitoring of western lowland gorillas in Gabon; developing ecotourism sites in Central Africa; searching for extremely rare endemic birds in New Guinea; and conducting behavioral studies of desert baboons in Namibia.