Biological Sciences Chair Isabelle Côté presents Bruce Leighton with his award

Bruce Leighton SFU Staff Achievement winner – Lifetime Achievement

September 29, 2020

Story by Diane Mar-Nicolle

Anyone who has been delighted by the koi in SFU’s AQ Reflecting Pond can thank Bruce Leighton for tending to the iconic fish.  For the past 25 years Leighton has fed them and ensured their migration to SFU’s aquatic facility for a health check during the pond’s spring cleaning.

Leighton recently retired as an associate member of SFU’s Department of Biological Sciences, and as an aquatic technician in the Alcan Aquatic Research Centre. To recognize his years of dedication and leadership, Leighton received a 2019 SFU Staff Achievement Award in the category of Lifetime Achievement.

Leighton has been a fixture on campus since the late 70s when he was a part-time student and lab assistant. He earned a BSc (1992) and later a Master of Pest Management (2005) and then became a full-time employee as an aquatic and insectary technician.

Throughout his SFU career, Leighton took on tasks beyond those in his job description. These included supervising students, leading outreach workshops, organizing conferences, participating in committee work, guest lecturing and reviewing journal articles.

He has no plans to leave campus yet and plans to continue enjoying the Burnaby Mountain trails, and tending the insect garden that he and a colleague started several years ago. The garden, located in the Greenhouse Compound, provides plants for campus biologists, while the insects they attract‑—including a variety of butterflies over the summer—are sought by those in pest management.

“I greatly appreciate the award and the people who nominated me,” says Leighton. “Having it come when it did helped with the difficult transition to retirement.”

Leighton is also putting the SFU Writer’s Certificate he attained in 2010 to good use. He’s writing a novel about a fictional entomologist in a Vancouver-like setting who examines the near-future effects of climate change, human migration and a catastrophic oil spill.

He says he will miss good friends, colleagues and working with a steady stream of bright young people.  His favourite part of his job was “working with brilliant and dedicated people, learning from everyone‑— faculty, trades, tech staff and the student—encouraging young people to find their potential, and the studies of many interesting animal species.”

And, he says, “I will miss my fish in the Reflecting Pond.”

Do you know a staff member who deserves to be recognized for their outstanding work? Nominations are now open for this year’s Staff Achievement Awards. To learn more about the award categories, how to nominate and more, visit the Human Resources website. The deadline to submit a nomination is October 23, 2020.