TWU hosts Royal Society of Canada Romanowski Lecture

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On October 21, 2014 The Royal Society of Canada Romanowski medal recipient Dr. John Giesy spoke at TWU. 

You may not know his name, but you and every living thing on the planet have been affected by his work—in a good way.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the research of world-leading ecotoxicologist Dr. John Giesy—in collaboration with scientists at 3M Company and the US EPA—assessed the risks posed by a class of chemicals widely used in home applications. Found in water and stain repellants for clothes and furniture, and used for many industrial purposes, the chemical was considered low risk, and was used around the world.

Not only did he find that the chemical was everywhere in the environment, Dr. Giesy uncovered that early impressions of the chemical being unavailable and non-toxic were wrong, and that its continued use was a possible threat to the health and wellbeing of people and wildlife. His pioneering work on the distribution and toxicity of the chemical ultimately led to it being listed in the Stockholm Convention—the international treaty that regulates persistent organic pollutants. In Canada, a total of 87 chemicals in this class have been banned.

Dr. Giesy’s work has had a significant global impact. His research contributed to a potentially toxic chemical being banned from use, and helped avert possible widespread effects. In addition to the science, his story is also one of sociology, economics and, ultimately, policy. This October, he will dissect the anatomy of an environmental issue that went undetected for years, with hardly anyone knowing anything about it.

On Oct. 21 and 22, Dr. Giesy gave public talks at Trinity Western University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University, respectively. Both events were part of The Royal Society of Canada’s Romanowski Lecture Series, which aims to inform Canadians of recent advances in research and technology in environmental sciences. Video

One of Canada’s most distinguished academics, Dr. Giesy is currently a Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan. He is the most cited author in the combined fields of ecology and environmental sciences in the world, having published 979 peer-reviewed works, and presented over 1,520 lectures around the world.

He is the most recent recipient of the Royal Society of Canada’s Miroslaw Romanowski Medal, awarded annually to a distinguished researcher who has made significant contributions to the scientific resolution of environmental problems, or improvements to all aspects of an ecosystem via scientific means.