Nature Honors Dr. Chris M. Wood
Martin Grosell and Danielle McDonald, RSMAS, University of Miami, FL
Many people were disappointed when Chris Wood, from McMaster University, Ontario Canada, was not present at this year’s annual SETAC meeting in Portland, Oregon, despite a strong representation by his research group. However, Wood had one of the best possible reasons for his late cancellation. Just two days before the start of the Portland SETAC meeting, Wood was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Mentoring in Science at the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, and was faced with a full agenda of interviews and celebrations during the week of SETAC.
Wood, a Canada Research Chair in Environment and Health and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, has deservedly been recognized for his research accomplishments over the years with numerous prestigious awards including the Canadian Society of Zoologists Fry Medal for Lifetime Achievement (1999), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Fisheries Society (2002) and the Miroslaw Romanowski Medal in Environmental Sciences. Early in November of this year, Wood was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for Mentoring in Science by the highly prestigious scientific journal, Nature. Nature has offered this award every year for the past seven years, with each year focusing on a different country. This year’s focus was on Canadian scientists. Wood was chosen for this award from more than 50 nominees, put forward by colleagues and former students and post-doctoral fellows. The selection panel was won over by the sincere nomination statements from Wood’s past students and post-doctoral fellows; many of us former Wood Lab members consider his lab, past and present, as if it were family.
Wood’s success as a mentor is evident from the high number of his trainees that have established successful careers in academia, industry and government labs across the world. Undoubtedly, Wood’s impact as an advisor is tightly linked to his contagious enthusiasm and ability to lead by example. Obligatory weekly lab meetings and a demand that all graduate students present their work at national and international scientific meetings are two other important components to Wood’s success as a mentor. Furthermore, for decades Wood has included his graduate students and post-doctoral fellows on research trips to exotic locations like Bamfield Marine Sciences Center, Vancouver Island; RSMAS, University of Miami, Florida; Rio Negro, Brazil; Lake Magadi, Africa; and Lake Qing Hai, China. Attending these research trips has served as an incredible inspiration to many of us and has instilled the sound philosophy of working hard but also playing hard. Anyone having witnessed the Wood Lab at SETAC poster socials or at pubs and bars in the vicinity of SETAC conference venues can attest to the “playing hard” aspect of Wood’s philosophy. A total of approximately 40 post-doctoral fellows, more than 50 graduate students, 220 undergraduate students and a great number of visiting scientists and collaborators have benefitted directly from Wood’s mentoring.
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