John Smol Evolution and Ecology

Expert on ecology of ancient lakes, and river and lake pollution

The Story

John Smol was born in Montreal and went to Rosemere high school. His research focuses on the ecology of lakes and rivers: how acid rain, and other pollutants lead to their demise. He uses paleolimnological techniques--that is he examines the ancient history of lakes by looking at biological indicators such as diatoms, chrysophyte scales and cysts, and invertebrate fossils. Smol and his research team are also tracking long-term trends in global climatic and environmental change, again using paleolimnological approaches. This is a global program, but has recently been focused primarily on high arctic, sub-arctic, and semi-arid regions. The same methods are being used to track long-term changes in Pacific sockeye salmon populations, among other research projects. Smol is the 2004 winner of Canada's biggest scientific research prize, the Herzberg Award, worth $1,000,000 over five years. Smol has published extensively, including the textbook, Pollution of Lakes and Rivers: A Paleoenvironmental Perspective.

Career ideas:

  • Government paleontologist
  • University professor
  • Laboratory scientist
  • Chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, and pulp/paper industries staff scientist
  • Petroleum/mining consultant
  • Private consulting scientist

The Person

Kingston, Ontario
Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change
Queens University
  • BSc (Marine Biology), McGill University, Montreal, 1977
  • MSc (limnology), Brock U. (St. Catharines, Ontario), 1979
  • PhD, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, 1982
  • Botanical Society of America Darbaker Prize, 1992
  • National Research Council's Steacie Prize, 1993
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 1996
  • NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal, 2004
  • NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize, 2014
Last Updated
February 3, 2014

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