You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last two weeks not to know that our esteemed colleague, great mate and all-round poker-in-the-eyes-of-convention, Professor Navjot Sodhi, died tragically on 12 June 2011 of lymphoma. but just in case you were under a rock, you can read about it here.
In the weeks that have elapsed, several amazing things have happened – despite Navjot being a complete bastard (note: I use this term in the Australian parlance meaning ‘one who could hold his own, who could detect bullshit at 100 m, who was a wonderful mate, and an even more terrible enemy’ – in essence, the highest compliment and expression of platonic love a man can give to another), his army of students, colleagues, admirers and distant relatives have flown into action to make damn sure he is not forgotten.
First, the outpouring of grief and accolades in the blogosphere hit a pick the week following his death (see here, here and here for examples). There was even a Facebook tribute page established within days. It just so happened too that he died during the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation‘s annual meeting in Arusha, Tanzania (and with whom Navjot was a council member). I have heard from the likes of Bill Laurance, Luke Gibson, Nigel Stork and others that the meeting ended up essentially being in honour of Navjot once everyone heard the dreadful news.
In addition to the first blog post I wrote immediately following his death, a few of us (me, Bill Laurance, Luke Gibson, Paul Ehrlich and Barry Brook) were invited by Erica Fleishman to write an obituary in Conservation Biology to appear in the October 2011 issue. We did that, and now it’s in press.
Bill also managed to convince Richard Primack to devote an entire special issue of tribute papers to Navjot Sodhi in Biological Conservation. The final format is yet to be decided, but many of us have already agreed (and have even written) papers intended for this issue. Once I know more about it, I’ll let everyone here know.
But I think the coolest outcome of this decidedly un-cool event is that the ATBC has agreed to host an annual award for a bright student of a developing tropical country to continue her/his research. I know that several of his closest colleagues have agreed to contribute, and now’s the time for everyone else to do the same. The Memorial Fund for Navjot Sodhi is still light on detail (who will be eligible, how much he/her might receive, minimum track record, etc.), but it’s fair to say it will most definitely honour our man in Singapore.
I urge you to contribute (via credit card or PayPal) – even a little. It’s what Navjot would have wanted.