Mark Leighton, PhD

Associate Director and Senior Research Advisor, Sustainability, Harvard Extension School

Mark Leighton is associate director and senior research advisor in the Sustainability Program at the Harvard Extension School. In 2012, he was honored for twenty-five years of teaching in the Extension School. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1983 in the department of biological anthropology. Leighton received his PhD from the University of California, Davis, where his research focused on rainforest ecology, and did a post-doc in tropical forestry at Oxford University.

Leighton's research has considered topics in rainforest community ecology, vertebrate behavioral ecology, sustainable forestry and land use, and conservation biology. In 1984, he founded the Cabang Panti Research Station in Gunung Palung National Park in Borneo, which has remained a productive site for basic and applied studies carried out by many collaborating students and colleagues. Leighton has directed several conservation and development projects in collaboration with Indonesia's ministry of forestry. While director of the Great Ape World Heritage Species Project, Leighton developed and served as initial co-chair of the scientific commission of the Great Ape Survival Project, a joint effort between the United Nations Environmental Programme and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that strives to save wild ape populations and their habitats. His current research focuses on developing private-public initiatives for sustainable conservation and management of tropical forest landscapes.


  • PhD University of California, Davis