Zwiers: Hope for the future begins with you

By Adela Talbot
June 11, 2014

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CONVO_ZwiersPaul Mayne // Western News

The combined expertise and experience of today’s graduates is essential to addressing monumental issues like climate change, climate researcher Francis Zwiers told graduates at the Wednesday, June 11, afternoon session of Western’s 303rd Convocation.

“Your education has prepared you with the background and tools to prepare and pose pathways and solutions to (problems),” said the director of University of Victoria's Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC). “Use your abilities to the fullest and don’t hesitate to invest in additional learning, especially in areas outside of your comfort zone.”

Zwiers spoke to graduates from the Faculty of Social Science and Faculty of Science at the Wednesday, June 11, afternoon session of Western’s 303rd Convocation. Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Science, honoris causa (DSc), upon Zwiers for his exemplary work in the area of climate science.

Zwiers told graduates they must not be afraid to challenge themselves, to learn more and to engage themselves in issues that challenge society. Even though the effects of climate change are ongoing, with imminent changes regardless of efforts we make today to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Zwiers told graduates he will not despair.

“I remain optimistic for the future; my optimism stems from you, young graduates,” he said.

An internationally recognized leader in the area of climate research, Zwiers trained as a statistician. His research focused on the application of statistics to questions central to the understanding of climate change, including predictability and what role humans play in climate change, as well as its result as it contributes to the frequency and intensity of extreme weather and climate events.

He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Meteorological Society, and has received, among other honours, the Patterson Medal, awarded annually to Canadian residents for distinguished service to meteorology. Zwiers also teaches in Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Victoria and the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at Simon Fraser University.

Before becoming Director of PCIC, Zwiers also served as the chief of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis and the director of the Climate Research Division at Environment Canada.

A recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, Zwiers received the Impact Award from the Statistical Society of Canada in 2011 and the World Meteorological Organization Award for Exceptionally Long Term Service to the Commission for Climatology in 2010.

He served as editor of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate from 1999-2004 and has served as associate editor since 2005.

In her citation, Faculty of Science Dean Charmaine Dean praised Zwiers for his work and lifelong dedication to climate change research – something that aims to ensure humanity prospers.

Dean called Zwiers a “stellar research(er), passionate educator, skilled communicator and a mentor to scientists as a trailblazer who has, with skill and generosity, guided innumerable young investigators to make their marks on science and the world.”

Also during the ceremony, the Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Earth Sciences professor Cameron Tsujita.


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