Queen’s researcher named great Canadian explorer

John Smol honoured by Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

John Smol has spent over 30 years researching and exploring the circumpolar Arctic. He has given lectures on all seven continents. He has advanced climate research and influenced policies in many countries around the world.

John Smol has been named one of Canada's top 100 explorers.

In recognition, the Queen’s University professor and Canada Research Chair has been named one of Canada’s greatest explorers by the Fellows of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. The list of 100 “trailblazers” includes Roberta Bondar, James Cameron, Chris Hadfield and Elon Musk. The fellows were looking for Canadians who have contributed world and national firsts, and those who have made significant and lasting impacts in their field of study.

“I’ve been to a lot of weird places,” says Dr. Smol, with a laugh. “So I guess you can consider me an explorer of sorts. I’ve worked on almost every major Arctic island and landscape, and I commute regularly to China and South America and elsewhere. In 2013-14, I travelled to six continents in less than a year. I’ve been to places where I’m pretty sure I was the first person to walk on the land! My lab is global.”

Dr. Smol is known around the globe for his pioneering work in paleolimnology, the study of lake sediment to track environmental and ecological change. In large part, he travels to attend conferences and events, often invited as the keynote speaker. Dr. Smol regularly uses these opportunities to advance his research projects by meeting with other researchers and students in the various international venues.

“I’m quite proud of what I’ve done with my lab group. We’re working to sort out global problems, and I believe our approaches have influenced policy in different countries and we’ve opened people’s eyes to what is wrong with the world,” he says

Learn more about the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s list of greatest explorers.