Dr. Evan Richardson, Polar Bear Research Scientist

A man wearing a parka coat, standing on a baron snow-covered flat landscape.

Photo: Evan Richardson

 

“I am deeply motivated by my work on polar bears as it contributes to a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems.”

For over 16 years, Dr. Evan Richardson has been working to protect the largest and most iconic bear in the world:  the polar bear. Evan is a Polar Bear Research Scientist, delivering science-based knowledge to decision-makers about the long-term conservation and management of polar bears in Canada.

Evan began his work on the polar bears of Hudson Bay, working near Churchill, Manitoba. Since then, his research has focused on western Hudson Bay, the Beaufort Sea, and Viscount Melville Sound, a part of the Arctic Ocean straddling the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories and the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut. When he is not in the field, you’ll find Evan working in his Winnipeg-based lab.

As vast and expansive as the home ranges of polar bears, which can span 500,000 km2, the community of polar bear scientists is also large and diverse. Connecting with these amazing colleagues has been Evan’s favourite part of his career. He has tracked polar bears on the sea ice for weeks with Inuit hunters, and worked alongside graduate students from across the country on polar bear genetics, habitat use, and contaminants. Evan has also collaborated with fellow scientists across the circumpolar arctic. Evan is encouraged by the passion Canadians have for the ecology and conservation of polar bears, and believes that all Canadians have a role to play in their preservation.

Mentorship at ECCC has been key to supporting Evan’s career as a polar bear scientist. In particular, Dr. Ian Stirling, a pioneer of research on polar bear ecology, played a significant role in Evan’s career development, leading him to where he is today. Dr. Stirling is currently an Emeritus scientist with ECCC, and an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta.

Evan is keenly aware that his research and that of his colleagues on the impacts of climate change on polar bears, is creating a desire to find solutions to support these magnificent creatures, the ecosystems they inhabit, and the communities that are reliant on them. For Evan, that is plenty of motivation to continue his research.

Here are a few random facts about Evan:

  • What was your first job? I worked at a veterinary clinic taking care of sick animals.
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Antarctica.
  • What is your favourite game or sport to watch and play? I really enjoy rock climbing.
  • Would you rather ride a bike, ride a horse, or drive a car? A mountain bike.
  • If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Lasagna!
  • If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to? Ancient Greece.
  • What are your hobbies? Anything outdoors with my kids.
  • What is your favourite flavour of ice cream? Chocolate.
  • How many pairs of shoes do you own? Not that many.
  • If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have? To be able to heal anyone.
  • What form of public transportation do you prefer? (air, boat, train, bus, car, etc.) I like the train and a good podcast.
  • What's your favourite zoo animal? Polar bears
  • Summer or winter? Winter.
  • If you could share a meal with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Richard Dawkins.
  • What's your favourite holiday? Christmas.
  • What's your favourite fast food? A good burger.
  • Do you love or hate rollercoasters? Not a fan.
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In the Arctic somewhere checking up on the bears.

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