2020 Massey Medal recipient: Dr. John Smol
Dr. John Smol has shifted how we think about the Canadian landscape — and how we monitor and assess its ecology. From the northern stretches of Ellesmere Island in the Arctic to the southern border, from the coasts of the Pacific eastward to Newfoundland, Smol has explored how our ecosystems have changed — both over time and over geography. An ecologist, limnologist and palaeolimnologist, Smol has taken a novel approach to studying lake and river sediments — techniques he developed in Canada that have since been adopted all over the world, leading to better protections for lake ecosystems.
Not just a scientist, Smol is a champion for the ecosystems he and his team have studied, explaining the science to students and the general public alike — to help people grasp the realities of climate change and rapidly changing polar regions. Smol now holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change at Queen’s University, where he founded, and now co-directs, the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), which is dedicated to the study of long-term global environmental change. In 2013, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is proud to award the Massey Medal to Dr. John Smol for his outstanding contributions to environmental science — and how we understand it.