In 2015, Dr. Ian Stirling was awarded the Weston Family Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Northern Research. The award recognizes a leading northern researcher in natural science and is the largest award of its kind. Stirling has carried out research on the ecology and behaviour of arctic marine mammals for the past 40 years, most notably with polar bears and was the first researcher to make the connection with the declining nature of the polar bear population and global warming. A great deal of his research focuses on this relationship of Arctic animals to depleting ice conditions. Stirling estimates almost half of the Arctic’s polar bear population could disappear as early as 2050 if global warming continues at its current rate. Stirling has been an integral part of Arctic research, helping to mentor other young scientists since he became an Adjunct Professor with the University of Alberta in the 1970s.
Photo credit: Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures