David Schindler

Evolution and Ecology

Schindler identified detergent phosphates as a pollutant killing lakes in the 1960s, and pinpointed acid rain as a widespread cause of fish deaths in the 1970s & '80s. Schindler now warns that rapid exploitation of Alberta's oil sands is polluting the Athabaska River, and recommends that oil sands extraction be monitored more effectively.

"The days when we can afford to sit in our ivory towers and put our bound volumes on the shelves of our libraries, and then expect them to have any impact on how ecosystems are managed, are long gone."


Fargo, North Dakota

100 km west of Edmonton, Alberta

Family Members
  • Spouse: Suzanne Bayley [Prof. of wetland science University of Alberta]
  • Children: Eva, Daniel, [Prof. of limnology at the University of Washington], Rachel

“I guess I'm kind of a stubborn person. I have a good detector for propaganda.”

Favorite Music
Classical–mother was a concert pianist. Favorite composers: Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius. Played the piano for a while, and also the trombone, trumpet and baritone.

Other Interests
Fishing and woodworking. Until about a decade ago, Schindler and his family raised and raced sled dogs.

Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology

Univeristy of Alberta


  • B.Sc. North Dakota State University (1962)
  • D. Phil. Oxford University (1966)

  • Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, 2001
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of London, 2001
  • Douglas H. Pimlott Award for Conservation, Canadian Nature Federation, 2001
  • NSERC Award of Excellence, 2000
  • Officer of the Order of Canada
  • Foreign fellow of the Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences
  • Member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences.
  • International Society of Limnology's Naumann–Thienemann Medal
  • Stockholm Water Prize
  • Volvo International Environmental Prize
  • Manning Award of Distinction for Innovation in Science
  • Killam Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts.
  • Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement


Wallace Broecker, professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University for his enthusiasm and his curiosity for what really made things work. Also high school teachers in mathematics, biology and English: Rudolfs Malta, Robert Weinhold and William Chisholm. Malta Malta tutored Schindler in university math after school for free, enabling him to skip ahead to more advanced math in university. Gabriel Comita, for his boundless enthusiasm for science and who lent Schindler books that helped him discover his career direction. Charles Elton, who wrote the book that made Schindler choose ecology; and J.R. Vallentyne, who was always there to back Schindler up.

Last Updated
March 28, 2012


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