Uncovering the secrets in Canada's northern natural archives: Dr. John Smol Awarded Lifetime Achievement Prize in Northern Research by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation

TORONTO, July 22, 2013 /CNW/ - Helping to write a "history book" of Canada's northern environment - home to some of the world's most prized natural wonders and resources -  Dr. John Smol's lifelong research has been instrumental in helping the world understand global climate issues and the effects of contaminants on the Arctic environment. Today, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation announced that Dr. Smol has been awarded the annual Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research for his work focused on the impact of environmental change on Arctic freshwater ecosystems.

The $50,000 prize recognizes a leading northern researcher in natural science, and is the largest of its kind. It is administered by the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) and awarded by the Churchill Northern Studies Centre.

"Dr. Smol has dedicated the past 30 years to advancing our understanding of a wide range of environmental issues affecting Northern Canada and the world," says Michael Goodyear, Executive Director, Churchill Northern Studies Centre. "His outstanding national and international reputation among governments, organizations and leading researchers, and impressive record of contributions to the scientific community made his selection a natural choice."

A professor at Queen's University, Dr. Smol is a leading international authority in the field of Arctic limnology and paleolimnology, which looks below the surface of lakes and rivers to uncover the secrets of our environmental history. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Environment Change, and became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013.

"Canada has stewardship over a vast, resource-rich and beautiful part of the planet, but we need solid evidence-based policy to make sustainable and informed decisions for our future," said Dr. John Smol. "I am tremendously honoured to be recognized with the Weston Family Prize for the work I love to do. It has been a privilege to work in the Arctic, with the support and collaboration of highly dedicated and passionate students and researchers."

"Throughout his remarkable career in northern science, Dr. Smol has demonstrated a commitment to education and public outreach," noted Peter Geller, President, ACUNS. "He has contributed to mentoring the next generation of arctic scientists, many of whom now fill key positions in Canadian universities and in the public service."

The Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research was created in 2011 to honour leading northern researchers who have advanced our understanding of Canada's northern environment, and significantly contributed to better understanding of the physical and biological environments, ecosystems, demographics of the North, and evolving climate issues. Previous winners have included Dr. Serge Payette (2011) and Dr. Louis Fortier (2012).

Since 2007, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has worked with ACUNS to offer awards to Masters and PhD students who demonstrate academic excellence and leadership in northern natural science research, awarding over $2 million in support of their work, often completed at research stations such as the Churchill Northern Studies Centre.

"We need to understand our past so we can anticipate future changes to the unique and sensitive landscape of Canada's North," said Geordie Dalglish, Chair of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation's Northern Committee. "We are delighted to recognize Dr. Smol with The Weston Family Prize for his lifetime dedication and enthusiasm in advancing important research that will help us predict and manage the impact of environmental changes in the North."

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation
The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is a private Canadian family foundation, established in the 1950's by Willard Garfield Weston and his wife Reta. For three generations, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has maintained a family tradition of supporting charitable organizations across Canada. Today the Foundation directs the majority of its funds to projects in the field of land conservation, education, neuroscience and science in Canada's North.

About Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Founded in 1976, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre is an independent, non-profit research and education facility located 23 km east of the town of Churchill, Manitoba. In addition to research, the Centre facilitates a wide range of educational programming ranging from general interest courses for the visiting public to university credit courses for students.

About ACUNS
For over thirty years the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) has successfully promoted the advancement of northern scholarship through its mandate and programs. Established in 1978, ACUNS is a registered charitable organization operating with an office in Ottawa, and active volunteer representatives at over 40 member institutions across the country.

SOURCE: The W. Garfield Weston Foundation

For further information:

Nina Godard, 416-969-2667, ngodard@environicspr.com

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The W. Garfield Weston Foundation

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