"Objective Science for Conservation"






The People Behind the Pacific WildLife Foundation

Executive and Board of Directors

Dr. Rob Butler, President

Dr. Butler has four decades of experience as a senior government scientist, professor, science advisor and executive member of several non-government organizations in Canada and abroad. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithologists Union and The Explorer’s Club, and an Outstanding Alumnus of two universities. More





Dr. Ron Ydenberg, Vice President

Dr. Ydenberg is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University where he directs over 25 students in a wide range of ecological research. He is also Professor in Wildlife Management, at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands.


Ian de W. Semple, Secretary Treasurer

Ian has extensive experience as a geologist, mining investment analyst in the financial business, and in company management. He brings a strong understanding of the bridges needed between business, the sciences and the environment. Ian is also a Vancouver Community Police Volunteer, artist and author. More


Dr. Jim Darling, Director

Dr. Darling pioneered field research on gray whales since the early 1970s. He earned a doctoral degree from the University of California Santa Cruz in 1983 for his research on humpback whales. His research has appeared on numerous television programs and magazines including National Geographic.


Rod MacVicar, Director

Rod MacVicar is a retired high school teacher with three decades of experience teaching environmental education to students. He has worked alongside many researchers, television documentary filmmakers and marine educators. Rod has received numerous national and regional awards. He is a Master Mariner and co-owner of an ecotour company.  




Gillian Darling Kovanic, Director

Gillian Darling is an award-winning television documentary director and producer. She has produced films on health, education, agriculture and economic development, and worked for National Film Board of Canada. She co-produced the Gemini Ward winning documentary Island of Whales with West Coast Whale Research Foundation, and owns a film company.


Rudi Kovanic, Director

Rudi was the cinematographer for the highly acclaimed science series, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. During his more than 35 years of film and video documentary experience, Rudi has specialized in scientific subjects—including natural history, the humanities, anthropology, medicine, technology and the environment. In 1995, Rudi founded Tamarin Productions and now works as an independent cinematographer. He has won many national and international awards at scientific, environmental and natural history film festivals including the President’s Award from CBC, two Golden Plaques at the Chicago International Film Festival.  


Ruth Foster, Director

Ruth is a retired teacher nationally recognized as one of Canada’s foremost environmental education specialists. Her awards include a prestigious Canadian Environmental Award Gold Medal for Environmental Learning, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award, Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and several regional awards. She serves on the executive of several societies and is a field instructor with Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education International Studies program.


Tom Middleton, Director

Tom Middleton is an award winning wildlife and nature photographer. His photos have appeared in newspapers, science journals, online articles, magazines, posters, books and numerous other publications. Tom donates the use of his wildlife and nature images to the scientific community as a descriptive enhancement for publications, talks and scientific papers. His photos grace many parks and nature reserves throughout Vancouver and British Columbia. More on Tom Middleton





Fellows are distinguished scientists who work independently on their own projects to provide expertise in fields of study requested by the Board.  


Dr. Dan Esler

Dr. Esler is a research biologist with the US government (USGS) in Alaska, where he leads a team studying nearshore marine ecosystems. He also has been an Adjunct Professor with the Centre for Wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University since 2001, where he and his students have evaluated effects of habitat change in coastal environments on migratory bird populations. His work has appeared in a wide array of scientific journals, and also has been featured in newspaper, radio, and television outlets.



Dr. Eric Anderson

Dr. Anderson is an Instructor in the Department of Renewable Resources at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. His interests are in the research of marine bird ecology and conservation, and in teaching applied ecology.


Professor Isabelle Côté

Dr. Côté is a marine biologist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University where her research is linked to marine conservation such as marine protected areas, coral reefs and invasive species.


Professor Larry Dill

Dr. Dill is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His research interests concern the role of behaviour in mediating interspecific interactions, particularly predation, in marine ecosystems.


Dr. Richard Rawlins

Dr. Rawlins, Ph.D., HCLD (ABB) is a Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Professor of Anatomy & Cell Biology at Rush Medical College, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL. He is also an adjunct Professor of Comparative Medicine at the University o Puerto Rico. He holds an MA in Biological Anthropology from Northwestern University and a Ph.D in Zoology from Michigan State University. He specializes in preimplantation embryology, primate reproductive physiology and population biology.


Professor John Reynolds

Dr. Reynolds is the Tom Buell BC Leadership Chair in Salmon Conservation and a Professor of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Canada. His interests are in the conservation and ecology of Pacific salmon and their ecosystems. 


Professor Andrew Trites

Dr. Trites is a Professor and Director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia. His interests are in the research of marine mammals and public outreach of science. 


Dr. Cliff Robinson

Dr. Robinson is a consulting biologist in British Columbia with an interest in the role small fish in marine ecosystems. He brings over 20 years of experience as a Marine Scientist with Parks Canada and as an Associate Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria.




Associates work on projects led by the Directors or Fellows.  


Iain M. Jones

Iain is a biologist with Golder and Associates in Burnaby. He holds a diploma in Fish and Wildlife Management from the British Columbia Institute of Technology and a Master of Science degree from Simon Fraser University.  He brings a wealth of managerial and field experience and logistical talent.


Dr. Sean Boyd

Dr. Sean Boyd is a research scientist with Environment Canada and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University. He studies Arctic geese and sea ducks with special emphasis on winter ecology and migration ecology.


Dr. Holly Middleton

Dr. Holly Middleton is an ecologist interested in the effects of intensive agriculture on migratory birds, especially waterfowl. She also has many years of experience with field work on a variety of birds in western Canada.


Todd Golumbia

Todd Golumbia holds a Master of Science degree from the University of British Columbia in Forest Ecology. He has worked at several National Parks in western Canada as an Ecologist and a Park Warden since 1982. He is now a conservation planner with Capital Regional District Parks in Victoria, Canada and a consulting biologist.




Kate Keogh

Kate is Vice Principal at Cheakamus Centre with Bachelor degrees in Zoology and Education and a Master of Arts degree in science and environmental education from the University of Victoria. She brings an understanding of classroom curriculum and practical ways that information from researchers can be incorporated into curriculum and made relevant to school age children. Kate has been a research assistant on gray whale, humpback whale, harbour seal and basking shark research. Kate served as a Director of PWLF for 8 years.


Wendy Szaniszlo

Wendy Szaniszlo is a marine mammalogist who has worked on sea lion, gray whale and humpback whale research projects in collaboration with government, academic and not-for-profit organizations. She holds two degrees from the University of Victoria. Wendy has worked on species-at-risk and as a marine naturalist with Parks Canada, BC Parks, and local eco-tour companies.


Mike McKinlay

Mike McKinlay is the owner of Mike McKinlay Productions, an award winning film production company in Vancouver. He provides dedicated creative video services to the foundation.


Douglas Swanston

Doug Swanston is a marine biologist with extensive experience in coastal and offshore waters of British Columbia and the Arctic. He has recovered and relocated threatened and endangered freshwater and marine vertebrates and invertebrates while working on projects proceeding under the scrutiny of Species at Risk Legislation. Doug enjoys leading groups of all ages in discovery and exploration walks to the beach and has helped develop marine biology and outdoor education experiences for students from grades 2 through secondary school.


Dan Straker

Dan Straker is an urban ecologist with an early career in environmental consulting. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. Whether talking with people about urban wildlife, coordinating events for Bird Week, or facilitating conversations about the complexity of waterfronts, Dan is happiest when talking to humans about animals, or vice versa.


Andrew Couturier

 Andrew Couturier is a Senior Analyst with Bird Studies Canada, where he has worked for more than twenty years on numerous national and international conservation initiatives.  In particular, he is widely regarded for his leadership in Bird Atlas projects across Canada, including here in BC.  He leads the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Program in Canada and works closely with PWLF on marine bird and mammal surveys in coastal BC





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