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Posted June 12 , 2013


Carleton Presents Renowned Lichenologist With Honorary Doctorate

Ottawa - Carleton University has recognized Irwin Brodo with a Doctor of Science, honoris causa in recognition of his distinguished career in lichenology and scientific leadership in the international biosystematics community. Brodo has published more than 90 research papers, including numerous papers on British Columbia lichens and an identification guidebook on the lichens of the Ottawa region.

“I invented vernacular names for most of the 800 lichens illustrated in my book and that was often hilarious fun, especially when we had to choose between competing common names, such as fairy puke versus candy lichen,” said Brodo. “It has been enormously gratifying to see so many people now incorporating lichens into their outdoor experience and enjoying them.

“Knowing the name of a plant or animal makes you feel introduced to it. They become familiar, like an old friend. When plants and animals you encounter on a walk through the woods or meadow become old friends, you are less inclined to allow them to be compromised or destroyed.”

He has taught at l’Université Laval in Quebec City and the University of Alaska in Juneau and directed master’s students at Carleton and the University of Ottawa. In addition to lecturing throughout North America and Europe, Brodo frequently gives workshops and leads field trips for amateur groups.

This acclaimed career was not predicted for Brodo. When deciding where to do his PhD, he approached the curator of lichens at the Smithsonian Institution for advice. The curator advised him to forget the whole idea as he had the only job for a lichenologist in North America. However, Brodo persevered and went on to earn his PhD and great success.

"Dr. Brodo reminded us today to follow our passion, “said Carleton University President Roseann O'Reilly Runte. “Even in a difficult climate with few jobs, this pursuit will ultimately lead to success. Dr. Brodo offers us the example of a true scientist whose career has been one of discovery."

Brodo retired in 2000 from the Canadian Museum of Nature where he was a research lichenologist for 35 years and chief of the Botany Division for more than eight years. He continues to work at the Canadian Museum of Nature as research lichenologist emeritus.

Recently, he completed a four-year term as president of the International Association for Lichenology (IAL), which awarded him an Eric Acharius medal in 1994 for his contributions to lichenology. He has been president of the American Bryological and Lichenological Society and the Canadian Botanical Association (CBA) and received the CBA's Mary Elliot Service Award in 1993 and the George Lawson Medal in 2004. He has been active in many Canadian conservation organizations, especially the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club and the Ottawa-Hull Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, having served both as president.

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