David Suzuki is a highly regarded and award-winning scientist, broadcaster and environmental campaigner.
As a third generation Japanese-Canadian growing up during the Second World War, six year old David and his family were uprooted from their family home and confined to a Japanese-Canadian Internment camp. Despite losing the family business and suffering from racial abuse, David excelled academically, advancing three grades in a year. He also cherished the fishing trips he went on with his father, with whom David accredits his love of nature, and his public speaking skills.
David was awarded a scholarship at Amherst College, and in 1958, he graduated with a Biology degree, before completing a PhD in Zoology at the University of Chicago in 1961. He was awarded the E.W.R Steacie memorial fellowship award for ‘Outstanding Canadian Research Scientist under 35’ and became a professor in the genetics department of the University of British Columbia, a post he maintained until his academic retirement in 2001.
In 1962, David read Rachel Carson’s commentary on the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment in Silent Spring. It had a powerful impact on him and in the same year he broadcast 8 genetics lectures in the University of Alberta series, Your University Speaks. Whilst lecturing he continued to learn about the history of genetics, and in 1968, he presented his first nationally broadcast series, Suzuki on Science for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The progressive format looked at both the positive and negative sides of science and met with much controversy within the science community. Undeterred, he began to campaign on a number of environmental issues, feeling strongly that the consequences to scientific progression were not always fully considered or publicised.
In 1974 he began hosting Science Magazine which was produced by Jim Murray, and in 1979, it was merged with The Nature of Things to become one of the CBC’s longest running series, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. The cutting edge science programme has been shown in over 50 countries, and its longevity and popularity has been recognised by a wealth of awards including 4 Gemini Awards for Best Documentary Series and a Gemini Award for Best Host.
In addition to hosting this weekly series, David also presented the acclaimed 8 part CBC series A Planet For The Taking, which won the United Nations Environment Program Medal and the World Environment Festival Award. Other series include the 8 part BBC / PBS series Cracking the Code, The Brain: The Universe Within for Discovery, The Sacred Balance for CBC, and CBC radio series It’s A Matter Of Survival and From Naked Ape To Superspecies.
David has a host of academic, media and environmental awards including the UNESCO Prize for Science and the Officer of the Order of Canada. He has written over 40 books and at present, he has 23 honorary degrees. He is professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia and remains completely dedicated to educating, broadcasting and campaigning for a more sustainable future.