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David W. Schindler PhotoDavid W. Schindler
BS ’62, zoology
Honorary doctorate ’78
2017 Henry L. Bolley Academic Achievement Award

Schindler is the emeritus Killam Memorial Chair and professor of ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. He was the founder and director of the internationally-renowned Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, where the impacts of pollutants are studied. His work provided a scientific basis for environmental policy in Canada, U.S. and Europe.

Schindler earned his doctorate at Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

He chaired the International Joint Commission’s Expert Panel on Ecology and Biogeochemistry from 1975 to 1978, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Atmosphere and the Biosphere from 1979 to 1981. He was a member of the review panel for the Alberta Pacific pulp mill, Science Advisory Panel of the Northern River Basins Study, Environment Canada’s Science and Technology Advisory Board, Sweden’s review of eutrophication management in the Baltic Sea and Alberta’s Environmental Protection Commission.

“I always wanted to do something in biology and preferably near lakes, but my high school advisers told me that the only career choices in biology were to be a high school teacher or medical doctor, neither of which appealed to me. I think both my advisers and parents believed that I would outgrow my career fantasy, but I never did,” Schindler explained.

Schindler’s early research began with NDSU faculty member Gabe Comita, which led to a publication in the journal Science. Other research at NDSU produced a paper for Nature. “I was so naïve that I did not even know that I had published my first two scientific papers in the two most prestigious journals in all of science,” he said.

During his distinguished career, Schindler has received many international honors, including the GE Hutchinson Medal of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Naumann-Thienemann Medal of the International Limnological Society, Stockholm Water Prize in 1991, Volvo Environment Prize in 1998, Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement in 2006, International Society of Conservation Biology’s LaRoe Prize in 2010, Natureserve’s International Conservation Award in 2015 and SETAC’s Rachel Carson Award in 2016. He is an Officer in the Order of Canada and he was appointed to the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2008.

“The most valuable lesson I learned at NDSU is that what one can do is only limited by his or her own will,” Schindler said. “I learned that I could do whatever I put my mind to.”

Schindler is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Royal Society of London; a member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences; and a foreign fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. He has received 14 honorary doctorates from Canadian and U.S. universities.

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