Steven A. Osofsky, DVM is the Jay Hyman Professor of Wildlife Health & Health Policy at Cornell University. Prior to that, he was the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Executive Director for Wildlife Health, overseeing all of WCS’s work in the health realm. Previously, Steve served as WWF’s Director, Field Support for species programs in Asia and Africa. In the early 1990s, he was the first Wildlife Veterinary Officer for the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Dr. Osofsky has also worked in the zoological community and was Director of Animal Health Services at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas for several years. As an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Diplomacy Fellow, he served as a Biodiversity Program Specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he focused on ground-truthing integrated conservation and development projects, providing technical advice on wildlife management, and on working with the USFWS on the Rhino-Tiger and African Elephant Grants Programs as well as on CITES policy.
Steve’s earliest fieldwork was as a Harvard University Traveling Fellow in Africa in the mid-1980s, and it was this experience, observing wildlife species in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda while examining conservation challenges from the perspectives of local people, NGOs, and governments, that convinced him to pursue a career in wildlife conservation. Steve’s diverse publications include the edited volume Conservation and Development Interventions at the Wildlife/Livestock Interface: Implications for Wildlife, Livestock and Human Health. Dr. Osofsky received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University, and completed a small animal medical/surgical internship at Virginia Tech. In 2003, Dr. Osofsky developed the Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development (AHEAD) Program, one of the foundational components of the WCS ‘One World, One Health’ initiative. In 2009, he began working with a range of public health and environmental science colleagues to launch the Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages (HEAL) Program, which became a foundation for the launch of the Planetary Health Alliance. He was honored to represent the veterinary profession on The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health.
“My efforts in helping to ‘birth’ the planetary health concept have been driven by a deep concern that society has not been proactively assessing potential public health impacts associated with increasingly obvious (as well as not so obvious) anthropogenic changes in the state of different ecosystems— particularly in terms of degradation of these ecosystems leading to negative public health consequences. Unless such consequences are proven and quantified in actionable ways, they remain vague externalities that are not factored into decisions about public health or natural resource management. That, to me, is why this field is so critical.”