B.Sc. Chemistry (Honors), SFU 1968
Ph.D. Chemistry, SFU 1976
Environmental Consultant (Retired), Active Community Volunteer
Dr. Lockhart was a Charter Student at SFU, starting in 2nd year chemistry having completed Grade 13 in Haney (Maple Ridge) where he attended high school. On completion of his undergraduate degree, Robert worked as a production supervisor at Seagram’s Distillery (New Westminster) and then as a forest products researcher at MacMillan Bloedel Research. He returned to SFU in 1970 for graduate studies in organic chemistry.
In graduate school Robert was able to move directly to a Ph.D. program where he studied synthetic organic photochemistry under Dr. Joe Chow. To clarify some challenging results, the work, with the great help of Fred Einstein, included X-ray crystallography. While initially intent on achieving an academic position, for family reasons and a desire to remain in Vancouver, Robert declined an NRC Post Doctoral Fellowship and accepted a research position at the BC Research Council as research scientist and toxicologist. This work was highly successful in identifying the toxic components of pulp mill effluents discharged in the Gulf of Georgia (now Salish Sea).
Due to research funding issues, Robert accepted an employment at BC Hydro as an occupational hygienist in Hydro’s Corporate Safety Department. This was the beginning of a very enjoyable and productive career. In 1987, Robert left BC Hydro and established a consulting company to deliver occupational health and safety services. This was the first broad-spectrum consulting firm in BC offering a broad range of health and safety consulting services. Ten years later, the company was sold to BC Research Corp. where Robert became a minority shareholder. BC Research Corp. was a technology incubatory from which several spin-off companies emerged.
After several years at BC Research Corp., and several name changes, the company was sold to Cantest Ltd., a large, local commercial laboratory. At the same time, Robert purchased the consulting arm of BC Research. In 2007, with retirement in mind, and no family member interested in the business, LRM International Consulting Inc. was sold to Golder Associates Ltd., an international engineering firm. Robert joined Golder as a senior consultant and program director. He retired from Golder in January 2012.
Throughout his career Robert was able to remain in Vancouver, but pursued opportunities to travel to all parts of Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, South America and Asia. He was also able to satisfy another long-standing desire – to interact with others, to understand their needs, and to assist with the solution to their challenges. SFU was instrumental in firmly establishing this desire for travel and to interact with others.
Robert has long been a community volunteer. These undertakings have included participation and leadership in school consultative committees, work as a Boy Scout leader, as a parent advisor with the army cadets, and as a Director and Past-President of the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society. In 1984, Robert was the founder and first president of the BC-Yukon Chapter of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. In 2009, Dr. Lockhart was awarded the Elizabeth McDonald Award for contributions to the occupational health and safety community.
Why did you choose to go to SFU?
SFU was convenient and after you got beyond the muddy parking lot, it was rather exciting. The drive from my home in Maple Ridge was a relatively short 20 minutes to the parking lot.
Where did you spend the most amount of time on campus?
As a graduate student, time was divided between the research laboratory, the library, and the gymnasium. I have long-lasting memories of tedious searches through chemistry journals. I became a running enthusiast while at SFU and was able to participate in this sport for more than 25 years. From the gym running took me along all of the perimeter trails on Burnaby Mountain and beyond.
What is your favorite memory from your time at SFU?
As an undergrad student, my favorite memory was the newness of it all. Everyone, staff and faculty included, was learning how this university thing should be done. As a graduate student, my favorite memory was the people, a great diversity of people from all parts of the world. This exposure stood me well in my later years of consulting.
Who was your favorite SFU professor and why?
There were two actually, and one instructor. Mrs. Shirley Black was my favorite lab instructor and I had the opportunity to work with her as a teaching assistant over most of my graduate years. Dr. Cam Oehlshlager was a great instructor. I took a couple of courses with Dr. John Borden (Biology), and he was supervisor of one of my graduate projects - all very enjoyable, especialy the tutorial style analysis of entomology papers.
How has your SFU degree impacted your career?
In retrospect, the time at SFU had a significant impact on my career. Prior to graduate school, and immediately after completing my Ph.D., I was employed in research activities (Reichhold Chemical, MacMillan Bloedel Research, and later, BC Research Council). Research and literature skills learned at SFU resulted in some significant achievements in these undertakings. In addition, my exposures to data analysis and interpretation, reasoning, three dimensional thinking, stress management, and ability to appreciate the perspective of others, all initiated at SFU, supported me in my later career in occupational health and safety consulting.
What is your favorite SFU snow story?
No favourites, but I do have recollection of the many times cars could not drive up Gaglardi Way during or immediately after a morning snowfall.
If you could give advice to students today, what would you tell them?
With few exceptions, it is unlikely that your career will develop exactly as you envision. However, the skills you learn in your studies, and in your social activities and volunteer activities while at school will directly influence your success in the opportunities that come to you.
What is the one thing about SFU that must not change?
So much has changed physically since I departed from the mountain, however, SFU was always open to diversity and differences of opinion. This should continue.