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Brothers named Canada’s Environmental Scientists of the Year


Two brothers have been recognized with one of the country’s most prestigious environmental awards in recognition of the importance of their scientific work to Canadian society.

Biologists and half-brothers John Smol and Jules Blais have been named 2008 Environmental Scientists of the Year by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, which publishes Canadian Geographic magazine.

Dr. Smol, who examines how lakes are affected by environmental change, is a professor in the Dept. of Biology at Queen’s University, with a cross-appointment at the School of Environmental Studies. He is co-director of the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL) and holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. Since 1990, he has won more than 20 research awards and fellowships (including the 2004 NSERC Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, as Canada’s top scientist or engineer), as well as five teaching awards.

Dr. Blais is an environmental toxicologist who studies the effects of industrial pollutants on ecological systems. He co-directs the Laboratory for Natural and Synthetic Environmental Toxicants at the University of Ottawa, and he is Director of the Ottawa-Carleton Chemical and Environmental Toxicology Program. He has received several distinctions, including the Lindeman Award by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography for outstanding contributions by a young scientist.

“John Smol and Jules Blais are exactly the sort of scientists we look for when giving this award,” says Rick Boychuk, editor of Canadian Geographic. “They are diligent, collaborative, curiosity-driven investigators who are highly respected by their peers. And they are addressing in their research issues of critical concern to Canadian society while advancing our understanding of the impact of human activity on both public and ecosystem health.”

This is the third year the Society, which was founded in 1929, has more than 210,000 members and is dedicated to broadening public knowledge through research and education, has bestowed the honour. The first year it selected David Keith, Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment at the University of Calgary and last year chose environmental chemist Miriam Diamond from the University of Toronto. In naming the winner, the Society scans widely for nominees, urging previous winners to suggest candidates and consulting scientists in industry, academia and government.

“This is clearly a great honour for John and Jules and it’s wonderful to see their commitment to their research and passion about the environment recognized in this way,” says Kerry Rowe, Queen’s Vice Principal, Research.

“I’m proud of the work accomplished by my distinguished colleagues, Drs Blais and Smol. Their outstanding achievements illustrate the impact of academic research on our world and our daily lives. It’s an honour for me to congratulate them for this well deserved recognition” says Mona Nemer, vice-president research, University of Ottawa.

Drs. Smol and Blais will be profiled in Canadian Geographic’s annual environmental issue, which is published in June.

For more information contact Communications Assistant Alissa Clark, 613 533-6000, ext. 77513,, Queen’s News and Media Services or Media Relations Officer Nadine Saint-Amour, 613-562-5800, ext. 3149,, uOttawa Communications Service


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