Joel E. Cohen is Professor of Populations in the School of International and Public Affairs, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, and the Center for Applied Probability. He is also Rockfeller University's Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of Populations. He heads the Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller and Columbia Universities.

His research deals with the demography, ecology, epidemiology and social organization of human and non-human populations and with mathematical concepts useful in these fields.

In December 2000, his book Comparisons of Stochastic Matrices, with Applications in Information Theory, Statistics, Economics and Population Sciences (with J. H. B. Kemperman and Gheorghe Zbaganu Birkhäuser Boston, 1998) received the Gheorghe Lazar Prize of the Romanian Academy.

In March 1999, Cohen was co-winner of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

In March 1997, he was the first winner of the Olivia Schieffelin Nordberg Prize "for excellence in writing in the population sciences." The Nordberg Prize recognized his book, How Many People Can the Earth Support? (W. W. Norton, New York, 1995). Japanese and Italian translations were published in 1998.

Cohen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1989 (in evolutionary and population biology and ecology), the American Philosophical Society in 1994 (in the professions, arts, and affairs), and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1997 (in applied mathematical sciences).

He received doctorates in applied mathematics in 1970 and population sciences and tropical public health in 1973 from Harvard University. He joined the Rockefeller University in 1975 as Professor of Populations and was named Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor there in 1996.

His other scientific books are A Model of Simple Competition (Harvard University Press, 1966), Casual Groups of Monkeys and Men (Harvard University Press, 1971), Food Webs and Niche Space (Princeton University Press, 1978), and Community Food Webs: Data and Theory (with F. Briand and C. M. Newman; Springer-Verlag, 1990). He co-edited volumes on Random Matrices and Their Applications (with H. Kesten and C. M. Newman; American Mathematical Society, 1986), Mutualism and Community Organization (with H. Kawanabe and K. Iwasaki; Oxford University Press, 1993), and Plants and Population: Is There Time? (with N. V. Fedoroff; National Academy Press, 1999). He has published more than 280 academic papers, in addition to a book of scientific and mathematical jokes, Absolute Zero Gravity (with B. Devine; Simon and Schuster, 1992).

In 1972, he received the Mercer Award of the Ecological Society of America for an "outstanding ecological paper published in the previous two years." In 1984, he was named one of "America's Top 100 Young Scientists" by Science Digest. In 1992, he received the Sheps Award of the Population Association of America for "outstanding contributions to mathematical demography or demographic methodology." In 1994, he received the Distinguished Statistical Ecologist Award at the Sixth International Congress of Ecology (Manchester, U.K.) for "outstanding contributions to the development of basic concepts and applications of statistical ecology." In 1998, he shared the Fred L. Soper Prize awarded by the Pan American Health and Education Foundation of the Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC, for work on Chagas' disease.

Cohen serves as a member of the national Board of Governors of The Nature Conservancy since September 2000, as an elected Councilor of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, representing Class II (Biological Sciences), since May 2000 (Council Executive Committee since November 2000), as a Trustee of the Black Rock Forest Preserve, New York, since 1989, as a member of the Educational Advisory Board of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation since 1985, and on other boards and committees. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an Honorary Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, both in New York.

He was elected a Fellow of Harvard University's Society of Fellows (1967), King's College Cambridge (1974), the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1981), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1981), the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1981), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1983), the American Statistical Association (1987), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (1990). He was a Trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation (1989-99) and Vice-Chairman of the Board (1996-99), a member of the Committee on Selection of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1990-1999), a Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1989-90), a Visiting Scholar of Phi Beta Kappa (1992-93), and a member of the editorial board of The American Scholar (1994-99).

From 1991 to 1995, he served as a U.S. Federal Court-appointed neutral expert on projection of asbestos-related claims in the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. In 1996, he served as a Special Master on a panel to select experts for the multi-district liability litigation concerning silicone gel breast implant products before the United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama (Southern Division). He taught at Harvard (1971-74) on the regular faculty, and as a Visiting Professor at Stanford University (1982), the National University of San Luis, Argentina (1987), the Central University of Venezuela (1991), the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (1993), and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (1994). In 1996, he was the B. Benjamin Zucker Environmental Fellow of Yale University and the BES Lecturer of the British Ecological Society. In 1997, he was the Michael Perkins Lecturer of the Department of Zoology, Cambridge University, UK. He spent a sabbatical in 1997-98 at the Harvard Institute for International Development and the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Cambridge, MA. He gave the commencement address to the University of California, Berkeley, College of Natural Resources in May 1999 and was Hitchcock Professor of the University of California, Berkeley, in September 2000.