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Nature honors outstanding faculty mentor

Chris Woods

TORONTO — November 12, 2010 — Canadian biologist Chris Wood was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Mentoring in Science. The Award was presented by Dr. Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Nature, at the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies annual meeting in Toronto earlier this week.

Chris Wood, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is a professor in the Department of Biology at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario), Canada Research Chair in Environment and Health, and research professor of Marine Biology and Fisheries at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (Miami, Florida).

Wood’s expertise lies in fish physiology, aquatic toxicology, and environmental regulations; his work on fish responses to pollution including acid rain and climate change has impacted public policy in Canada. Wood has attracted nearly a hundred post docs and grad students to his labs; about 40% now hold faculty positions worldwide. Among those talented former students and post docs are University of Miami Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor Martin Grosell, and Assistant Professor Danielle McDonald, both holding primary appointments at the Rosenstiel School. 

“Chris is richly deserving of this award for his immense impact on our field, as a scientist and a mentor”, said Grosell.  “His guidance and mentorship were instrumental in shaping my career and those of a high number of highly successful scientists worldwide”

“Working in his lab at McMaster University was an incredibly positive experience.  I believe that Chris has been so successful in fostering scientific creativity amongst those that have been mentored by him because his lab offers a research environment that is positive, enthusiastic, encourages independence and promotes hard work.   I would not be where I am today professionally without his mentorship and support.  I feel incredibly lucky for having him in my life and all of us are thrilled that he has been recognized by Nature in this manner,” said McDonald.

Wood has also mentored more than 220 undergraduates and summer students. The judges were won over by the passionate sincerity of the testimonials provided by 26 of his former students.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by this award,” says Wood. “I have been blessed with superb grad students and Post-Doctoral Fellows throughout my career. I am especially proud that a strong, multi-generational collaborative research network in Canada, Europe, and the United States has been established and continues to flourish through the many trainees whom I have mentored.”

Wood received a prize of C$10,000. Launched in 2005, the annual Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science recognize outstanding scientific mentorship and focus on a specific country or countries each year. The year 2010 focused on Canada and more than 50 nominations were submitted for the competition. The panel of judges for the 2010 Awards was led by John Hepburn, vice president, Research and International, at the University of British Columbia.

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chris wood •  achievement award •  physiology •  environmental •  dr. danielle mcdonald •  dr. martin grosell •