UWindsor research excellence received national recognition January 5, when biology professor Trevor Pitcher delivered the keynote address at the 2017 Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research in Montreal, as part of the J.C. Stevenson Award / Plenary Lecture.

Dr. Pitcher, the first UWindsor researcher ever to receive the lectureship, was among peers from across the country considered for the honour, which had its call for nominations in spring 2016.

The Canadian Journal of Fisheries Aquatic Sciences editorial board makes recommendations on which researchers among nominees from Canadian universities, as well as Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, and the National Research Council, meet the award’s criteria for a “young, energetic and creative researcher at the cutting edge of an aquatic discipline.” Pitcher’s lecture was titled Restoring Aquatic Biodiversity in the Anthropocene: Developing the Science of Reintroduction Biology.

The award-winner’s research focuses on evolutionary ecology, reproductive biology and conservation biology using fish from the Great Lakes. Pitcher studies how fish species survive and thrive in the wild and uses that information to design effective conservation breeding programs to replenish threatened species’ populations, including bloaters, Atlantic salmon, sturgeon, and the redside dace, which have gone locally extinct or are on the brink of extinction in Canada.

“Basically, I infuse ecological and evolutionary principles into conservation breeding programs to improve the fitness of fish to be used in reintroduction programs,” he says. “I observe what happens in the wild, the ideal conditions for healthy fish, and I mimic those conditions so fish can flourish in unnatural environments of captivity.”

He recently opened the Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre in LaSalle where he plans to conduct research with collaborators on the conservation of Great Lakes species and will also welcome the public, as well as local primary and secondary students to study fish biology and conservation.

UWindsor vice-president research and innovation, K.W. Michael Siu, says he is “delighted” that Pitcher was recognized with this prestigious award: “It is a testament to the magnitude and importance of his many contributions to the aquatic sciences at this early stage of his career.”

The award and lectureship were established in memory of Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences long-time editor Cam Stevenson.