Simon Fraser University

Bee man honoured for promoting science

December 02, 2004 , vol. 31, no. 7

By Marianne Meadahl
Biology professor Mark Winston is honoured with a 2004 Michael Smith award for being one of Canada's top science promoters. SFU's resident bee man is being honoured as one of the country's top science promoters.

Biology professor Mark Winston is the recipient of a 2004 Michael Smith award, given annually by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council for outstanding achievements in the promotion of science in Canada. The award was presented at a ceremony at Science World on Nov. 22.

An acclaimed scholar in the field of insect communication, Winston's long standing commitment to getting the message out about science by personalizing it and stimulating dialogue and debate, fulfills more than a scientific obligation, he says. “I love communicating,” he concedes. “I love writing about science and talking about it. I love the back and forthing with audiences. It's a way for me to pursue my inherent curiosity about the world around me.”

Winston says gauging public audiences also helps him to see his own science in a much bigger picture. “It helps me to reflect on my own work as a researcher and set directions,” he says.

The author of internationally praised books, Winston's achieve-ments outside the lab as a science communicator are rivalling those of his ground-breaking work inside, where bees remain his passion.

In 2001, he received the academic of the year award from the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C. for his contributions to the public. Awards for his research include prestigious Fulbright and Killam fellowships.

Winston's work as a communicator continues to expand through his role as director of the undergraduate semester program in dialogue at the Morris Wosk centre for dialogue.

The program is designed to spark dialogue among students on public issues and encourage creative thinking. In all of his endeavours he continues to urge students and others to participate in critical dialogue about social issues.

Others receiving a 2004 Michael Smith award, named after the late biochemist and Nobel laureate, include Sid Katz of UBC, Philip Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta, the Canadian Association for Girls in Science and the Deep River Science Academy, a mentoring program for high school science and engineering students, both based in Ontario.