In January 2010, Steven L. Monfort was appointed to the position of director of the newly created Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), established to serve as an umbrella for the Smithsonian's global effort to conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. Headquartered in Front Royal, Virginia, the facility was previously known as the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center. SCBI serves as the focal point for the Smithsonian’s efforts to use science-based approaches to conserve species and train future generations of conservationists around the world.
Monfort belongs to the first generation of conservation biologists to have spent their entire careers working within the zoological community. Throughout his career he has used multidisciplinary, collaborative science to save species and habitats and restore animals to the wild. Since 1986, he has served the Smithsonian in many roles, including veterinarian, research scientist, educator, conservationist, and executive-level administrator.
As a scientist, Monfort helped to pioneer noninvasive endocrine monitoring techniques that are now widely used for assessing reproductive status and well-being of wildlife species in zoos and in nature. In 2006, he became the Zoo’s associate director for conservation and science.
As an educator, Monfort worked in close collaboration with George Mason University colleagues to establish the Smithsonian-Mason Semester in Conservation Studies program in 2008. This exciting in-residence program at SCBI immerses undergraduates in an interdisciplinary, conservation learning environment.
As a conservationist, Monfort has helped catalyze and launch a number of important conservation initiatives, including the Sahara Conservation Fund, Conservation Centers for Species Survival, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, and the Global Tiger Initiative. He serves as the chair of the Asian Wild Horse Species Survival Plan, and as a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s antelope, cervid, and conservation breeding specialists groups.
Monfort received a B.A. in biology from the University of California, San Diego, doctor of veterinary medicine (1986) and master’s (1987) degrees from the University of California, Davis, and doctorate in environmental biology and public policy (1993) from George Mason University.
On July 28, 2009, Monfort testified on H.R. 3086: The Global Wildlife Conservation, Coordination, and Enhancement Act of 2009. He spoke before the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife.