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An ambassador of Canadian science

Stephen Lougheed (Biology) has received the Science Ambassador Award from Partners in Research (PIR). The award recognizes an outstanding Canadian researcher for their body of work over a period of time, their contributions to the field of science, and their promotion of this research to the Canadian public.

“I really like the challenge of articulating what we do in our lab or in the field for a general audience” said Dr. Lougheed. “Moreover, making publically-funded university research accessible and intelligible is incredibly important.”

Queen's biology professor Dr. Stephen Lougheed has received the PIR Science Ambassador Award, in recognition of his contributions to the field of conservation biology as well as his dedication to community outreach and knowledge dissemination. (Supplied Photo)

Dr. Lougheed’s research has made significant contributions to our understanding of how historical climate change, shifts in vegetation, mountain uplift and fluctuating sea levels during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs (from 5.3 million to 11,700 years ago) affected the diversification of species in North and Latin America. He has authored more than 100 refereed journal articles and book contributions, and his work on biogeography and evolutionary genetics have been cited more than 3500 times. In December 2016, Dr. Lougheed and his northern and university collaborators received a $9.2 million grant for a project combining leading-edge genomics and Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to develop a non-invasive means of tracking polar bear responses to environmental change.

“Dr. Lougheed is a leading scientist in the field of conservation biology, who has demonstrated both a dedication to fundamental research and to disseminating information to the public at large,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This award is a wonderful acknowledgment of Dr. Lougheed’s accomplishments and a testament to the excellence of Queen’s researchers and faculty.”

In addition to his research and teaching responsibilities, Dr. Lougheed has made outreach and public engagement a focus of his career. Since associating with the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) in 1994, he has taught over 45 field courses at QUBS and at other locales spanning four continents. He became the station director in 2012, and with his dedicated staff he has dramatically increased the station’s public outreach activities through public lecture series, programming for school and community groups, augmented on-line resources, and a camp for youth.

“Some of my most cherished moments at QUBS have been showing young people a creature like a ratsnake or musk turtle or giant water bug, and talking about their unique ecologies,” stated Dr. Lougheed, “or talking with school groups about how we might contribute to the conservation of one of our many species at risk.”

PIR is a registered Canadian charity founded in 1988 to help Canadians understand the significance, accomplishments and promise of biomedical research in advancing health and medicine. Since its genesis, PIR has broadened its scope to encompass science, technology, engineering and mathematics as fields of discovery and study for Canadian students.

Dr. Lougheed will receive the award at the Partners in Research National Awards Ceremony, held in Ottawa in May.