David Takayoshi Suzuki, geneticist, broadcaster (b at Vancouver 24 Mar 1936). A Canadian of Japanese parentage, who was interned with his family during the Second World War, David Suzuki joined UBC after study at the universities of Amherst and Chicago (PhD 1961) and in 1969 won a Steacie Memorial Fellowship as the best young Canadian scientist.
David Takayoshi Suzuki, geneticist, broadcaster (b at Vancouver 24 Mar 1936). A Canadian of Japanese parentage, who was interned with his family during the Second World War, David Suzuki joined UBC after study at the universities of Amherst and Chicago (PhD 1961) and in 1969 won a Steacie Memorial Fellowship as the best young Canadian scientist. He specialized in meiosis, the early division of living cells where differentiation begins (eg, between reproductive and other cells), and the study of mutations caused by changes in temperature. The TV series Suzuki on Science began to make him a public figure in 1971.
While continuing his university teaching and research in genetics (his work on the fruit fly gained him worldwide recognition), he wrote widely on science and science policy, created the radio series Quirks and Quarks in 1975, and served on the Science Council of Canada. Some academic colleagues criticized Suzuki's broadcasting as a waste of his talents, but Suzuki was convinced that public awareness of science would contribute to both better science policies and an enriched culture. His rare combination of personal charm and scientific ability, as displayed in the longest running documentary series on CBC-TV, The Nature of Things, has made Suzuki a unique figure in English-speaking Canada. His 1985 CBC special A Planet for the Taking was one of the most watched shows in CBC history, science or otherwise.
Metamorphosis (1987), Looking at Insects/Looking at Plants (2 vols, 1987), Time to Change (1994), You are the Earth (1999), Salmon Forest (2002) and his autobiography (2006).
David Suzuki developed a number of television science series to international acclaim. The United Nations awarded Suzuki's television series A Planet for the Taking its Environment Programme medal. He worked with both the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) on the series The Secret of Life (1993), and for the Discovery Channel on The Brain (1994).
In 2008, Suzuki and his youngest daughter, Sarika, launched a CBC-TV show, The Suzuki Diaries, about sustainability issues around the world. Father and daughter first visited Europe to discuss the equilibrium between human needs and planetary limits. The second instalment in 2010 focused on coastal Canada. David and Sarika met with scientists, fishers and leaders on all 3 of Canada's coasts to discuss the health and sustainability of Canadian coastlines.
David Suzuki has received numerous honours and awards. Among them, he received 5 Gemini Awards for his Canadian television efforts, and in 2002 was awarded the John Drainie award for broadcasting excellence. Suzuki received a lifetime achievement award from the University of British Columbia in 2000. He has 24 honorary degrees from multiple universities in Canada, the United States and Australia. He received the Royal Bank Award in 1986 and in the same year was awarded the UNESCO Kalinga prize for science writing. Suzuki was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1977 and became a Companion to the Order of Canada in 2006. In 2009 David Suzuki won the Right Livelihood Award, which is known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize" and recognizes outstanding vision and work for the planet and its people.