The Trent community is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. David Schindler – an influential champion for environmental conservation, and one of the world’s leading limnologists, with deep connections to the University.
Dr. Schindler began his esteemed career as a faculty member in the University’s Biology program in the 1960s. He is an honorary alumnus and received an honorary degree – Trent’s highest honour – in 1995. He is also the namesake of the University’s first privately funded endowed professorship – the David Schindler Endowed Professorship in Aquatic Science.
“It was such a privilege to work with Dave,” says Dr. Maggie Xenopoulos, professor of Biology at Trent University, colleague and former student of Dr. Schindler’s. “Twenty years after my Ph.D., he continues to inspire me greatly to speak out and work hard to protect our freshwater. I take solace knowing that we at Trent will continue his legacy with a professorship in his name.”
Dr. Schindler is perhaps best known for his innovative work at the Experimental Lakes Area, today managed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, recognized as one of the most successful long-term studies of freshwater ecosystems. Dr. Schindler’s trailblazing research on acid rain and eutrophication has been widely used in formulating ecological management policy in Canada, the USA and Europe.
Born in Fargo, North Dakota, Dr. Schindler earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology at the University of North Dakota before receiving his doctorate from Oxford University, England, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at Trent University in 1966 as an assistant professor in Biology, a position held until 1968. Following over two decades of advocacy and research, Dr. Schindler joined the University of Alberta as the prestigious Killam Memorial Chair in Ecology in 1989. He would remain with U of A until his retirement in 2013.
Throughout his remarkable career, Dr. Schindler received numerous national and international research awards. He is the only Canadian to have won the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize, an international award presented by the Stockholm Water Foundation in honour of outstanding achievements in science, engineering, technology, education or public policy related to the protection of the world’s water resources.
Recognizing his work with the Experimental Lakes Project, Dr. Schindler was the inaugural recipient of the Romanowski Medal of the Royal Society of Canada in 1994. In 2001, Dr. Schindler was awarded Canada’s highest scientific honour, the NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering – named in honour of Canada's 1971 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. In 2002 he was presented with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, received the Killam Prize in 2003, awarded for outstanding career achievements, and was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2004.
Dr. Schindler received an honorary degree from Trent University in 1995 in acknowledgement of his contributions to advancing scientific research and discovery and in recognition of the continuing personal and professional impact he had on the Trent community.
This legacy at Trent continues to live on through The David Schindler Endowed Professorship in Aquatic Science, established in 2008, and made possible by a generous anonymous donation of $1 million to honour his work. As an endowed fund, the professorship will exist at Trent in perpetuity, ensuring that the University is able to attract and retain the finest faculty for years to come.
“It has been a considerable honour to hold the David Schindler Professorship which was created to build on Dave’s legacy in ecology and water science.” says Dr. Paul Frost, the inaugural David Schindler Endowed Professor in Aquatic Science at Trent. “He leaves big shoes to fill given his leadership in aquatic science, environmental policies, and training generations of water scientists over the past fifty-plus years. Given how much we value our aquatic ecosystems, this is a big loss for science and Canada.”
Trent extends heartfelt sympathies to Dr. Schindler’s family, colleagues and friends, and to all who knew him at the University.