The late Geoffrey G.E. Scudder (1934 – 2023) was a force in science and conservation, whose intellect, drive, and passion changed British Columbia, Canada, and the world for the better. A director on The Nature Trust of British Columbia’s Board from 2001 to 2018, his impact on BC’s natural world is immeasurable, and he is greatly missed.
“How does one begin to describe the phenomenon that is Geoff Scudder?”, wrote Robert A. Cannings in a 2006 biography for the Entomological Society of Canada, “Superb zoologist. Intellectual whirlwind, prodigious writer, forceful speaker. Enthusiastic and supportive teacher and mentor. Relentless researcher, tireless insect collector, curious naturalist… Dedicated conservationist, lobbyist for environmental causes, and servant of science.”
A professor emeritus in the University of British Columbia (UBC)’s Zoology department, Geoff is the only faculty member to receive all four of the highest honours from the university. This includes The Master Teacher Award (1976), The Killam Research Prize (1989), the President’s Service Award for Excellence (1993), and the UBC Alumni Faculty Citation Award (1997). A passionate educator, Geoff was the head of the Zoology department for 24 years, from 1967 to 1991, was on UBC’s Senate for 26 years (1967-1993), and was the chair of the Biology program from 1976-1991.
Geoff’s drive to educate reached far beyond the classroom, with hundreds of published works in topics from taxonomy to conservation biology, and biodiversity to evolutionary theory. He was instrumental in supporting the Royal BC Museum, bolstering their entomology collections with his donations and curation expertise.
In protecting BC’s wildlife and habitat, Geoff played a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s conservation and wildlife protection strategy, supporting the development of the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and the federal Species at Risk Act. During his tenure with The Nature Trust, he was integral in securing a number of conservation properties across the South Okanagan, including the Antelope-brush Conservation Area. Geoff supported grassland ecosystems in a number of ways; he was a founding member of the Osoyoos Desert Society, and was a member of the BC Conservation Lands Forum.
In 2006, The Nature Trust honoured Geoff Scudder’s dedication to BC’s biodiversity and meaningful contributions to conservation through the naming of the Dr. Geoff Scudder South Okanagan Grasslands Research Field Station. A world authority on seed bugs, and known for significant research, including the discovery that certain species can help track environmental degradation and climate change, the research building is aptly named after this monumental figure in science. Located on our Vaseux Lake conservation area, this research station continues to bring together conservationists and researchers who continue Geoff’s spirit and legacy.
“Geoff was a dedicated champion for conservation, an exemplary scientist, and an all-around great fellow.” said Carl MacNaughton, The Nature Trust’s Interior and Coastal Mainland Conservation Land Manager, “He was a wonderful mentor to many biologists, and a guiding force for The Nature Trust of British Columbia. This rare gentleman will be missed by all who knew him.