Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research 2012

2012 Recipient
Dr. Louis Fortier, Université Laval

Louis FortierTrained at Université Laval (B.Sc. 1976; M.Sc. 1979) and McGill University (Ph.D. 1983), a NATO postdoctoral fellow (Plymouth, UK 1984-1985) and Professor at Université Laval since 1989, Louis Fortier studies zooplankton and marine fish population dynamics. In 2001, he created Québec-Océan, a multi-institution research centre that coordinates the efforts of oceanographers based in Quebec’s universities and government laboratories. He holds the Canada Research Chair on the response of arctic marine ecosystems to climate warming. He has sat on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada since 2005.
An indefatigable promoter of a multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial approach to the ecosystem-level concerns raised by the warming of the Arctic, Louis Fortier has led the Canadian participation on several international programs such as the Saroma-Resolute Study (SARES) with Japan and the Northeast Water Polynya Study (NEW) with Germany. Since 1997, he spearheaded the NOW (International North Water Polynya Study) and CASES (Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study) NSERC Research Networks, two highly successful research endeavors of international magnitude on the response of the Arctic Ocean to global climate change.

Louis Fortier is also heading the pan-Canadian consortium of Arctic specialists that received in 2002 a $27.5M grant from the International Joint Venture Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation to retrofit the Amundsen, Canada’s dedicated research icebreaker. Equipped with state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation and developing 14000 HP, the 100-m long icebreaker was inaugurated in 2003. Hosted by Université Laval and managed by the Canadian Coast Guard, this national infrastructure has enabled Canada to rebuild its leadership in the international study of its Arctic seas and territories.
Under Fortier’s leadership, Canada’s best arctic specialists in the natural, social and health sciences have founded ArcticNet which aims to anticipate the impacts of climate warming and modernization in the Arctic on the health and economy of northern communities and on the economy of Canada in general. The Network contributes to the formulation of policies and adaptation strategies in diverse sectors including marine and terrestrial ecosystem changes in the Arctic, the vulnerability of northern populations to catastrophic events, the adaptation of human health systems, the preservation of key animal species, the opening of the Northwest Passage to traffic, and Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

Louis Fortier was elected « Scientifique de l’Année 2004 » by Radio-Canada and « Personnalité scientifique de 2005 » by La Presse and Radio-Canada. In 2006, Université Laval awarded him the title of Grand Diplomé and the Gloire de l’Escolle Medal of the Alumni Association. The Governor General named him Officer of the Order of Canada in February 2007. He received an honorary PhD from the University of Manitoba in October 2007.