David Suzuki will mentor fellows to help lead the next generation of science communicators

VANCOUVER (June 20, 2017) — The David Suzuki Foundation has awarded $50,000 one-year David Suzuki Fellowships to three leading Canadian scholars, who will spend 2017-18 studying climate change solutions.

The winners are:

  • Melina Laboucan-Massimo, MA in Indigenous governance — Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change Fellow
  • Brett Dolter, PhD in ecological economics — Climate Change Economics Fellow
  • Jérôme Laviolette, MA in applied science — Transportation and Climate Change Fellow

“Climate change is the most serious and urgent issue we face,” David Suzuki said. “To help chart our path and tackle the impending climate crisis, we must develop the next generation of scientists who not only excel at science in laboratories and in the field, but who can also tell stories and communicate effectively to engage masses of people in the global shift toward a clean energy economy. With the U.S. recently withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, it’s more important than ever to build knowledge and understanding of solutions.”

Laboucan-Massimo has campaigned internationally with Greenpeace Canada, and has produced films about Indigenous peoples and environmental issues. She will research renewable energy models that can be replicated in communities in Canada, helping to create green jobs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

“My life path has taken me far from my community, to fight for my people and the sacredness of Mother Earth on an international stage,” Laboucan-Massimo said. “The lessons and skills these travels have brought me are ultimately gifts that I have always intended to bring back to communities affected by climate change and fossil fuel extraction. Indigenous communities are on the front lines of resource extraction and climate change, but we are also on the front lines of solutions.”

Dolter recently co-created a programming model to explore the costs of decarbonizing Canada’s energy systems, and is co-writing a book with York University economist Peter Victor.

“The environmental movement can do a better job of reaching out to people with conflicting beliefs,” Dolter said. “Well-facilitated deliberative dialogues can help citizens build shared understanding, and this can help transform environmental politics and our democracy.”

Laviolette’s MA research uses GPS data to better understand the demand-supply profile of the taxi industry. For the fellowship, he will focus on better understanding individual car dependency and the barriers and opportunities to change this behaviour.

“I became an engineer because I want to use science to find sustainable solutions to today’s major issues,” Laviolette said. “I intend to find creative ways of promoting sustainable transportation options, initiating positive and long-term change in people’s mobility behaviour.”

The David Suzuki Fellowships program will help the next generation of environmental leaders tackle complex problems and inspire change. Fellows will be mentored to perpetuate David Suzuki’s model of communicating science in ways that are easy to understand and act on.

The 2017-18 winners will be celebrated at a reception in Vancouver in September, when the 2018-19 David Suzuki Fellowships program details will also be announced.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser
David Suzuki Foundation

Note to editors:

Photos of the three 2017-18 fellows and a fellowships fact sheet are available by contacting the David Suzuki Foundation.