Dr. Devra G. Kleiman was a pioneer in the emerging field of conservation biology and one of the foremost female biologists of her time. Born in the Bronx, Dr. Kleiman received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago in 1964 and her doctorate in zoology from the University of London in 1969. In 1972, she became one of the first female scientists at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Dr. Kleiman was head of the Department of Zoological Research at the National Zoo from 1979-1995. She authored more than 150 scientific and popular publications, lectured widely, and was editor or co-editor of more than 8 books and symposium volumes. Dr. Kleiman was an adjunct Professor of Biology at the University of Maryland for 31 years, from 1979 until her unexpected death from cancer on April 29, 2010, at age 67. During this time she supervised six masters students, 10 PhD students and 18 postdoctoral fellows or visiting scientists, but also served as an informal mentor for hundreds of students throughout the world.
Dr. Kleiman's most groundbreaking work included her research on giant pandas that lead to successful captive breeding programs worldwide, and her research of the endangered golden lion tamarin that helped rescue the South American monkey from near extinction and reintroduce it into its natural Brazilian habit. Dr. Kleiman was influential in ushering in an era in which zoos became not simply a place to exhibit animals, but an instrumental part of conservation efforts.
In order to honor Dr. Kleiman's memory, her mother, Molly Kleiman, established this award to support graduate students in the Department of Biology at the University of Maryland, College Park.