David Suzuki

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David Suzuki

Dr. David Takayoshi Suzuki (born March 24 1936) is a Canadian geneticist who has attained prominence as a science broadcaster and an environmental activist. He is also a co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.


Early life

Suzuki and his twin sister Marcia were born to Setsu and Kaoru Carr Suzuki in Vancouver. Suzuki's maternal and paternal grandparents had emigrated to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century.

A third-generation Japanese-Canadian ("Canadian Sansei"), Suzuki and his family suffered internment in British Columbia during the Second World War from when he was six (1942) until after the war ended. In June 1942, the government sold the Suzuki family's dry-cleaning business, then interned Suzuki, his mother and two sisters in a camp in the Slocan Valley in the BC Interior. His father had been sent to a labour camp in Solsqua, two months earlier. Suzuki's sister, Dawn, was born in the internment camp.

After the war, Suzuki's family, like other Japanese Canadian families, was forced to move east of the Rockies. The Suzukis moved to Islington, Leamington, and London, Ontario.

Suzuki attended Mill Street Elementary School and Grade 9 at Leamington Secondary School, before he moved to London where he attended the Central Secondary School.

Academic career

Suzuki received his B.A. from Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1958, and his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961.

Early in his research career he studied genetics, using the popular model organism Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). To be able to use his initials in naming any new genes he found, he studied Drosophila temperature-sensitive phenotypes (DTS). (As he jokingly noted at a lecture at Johns Hopkins University, the only alternative was "darn tough skin".) He gained several international awards for his research into these mutations.

For his work popularizing science and environmental issues, he has been presented with honorary degrees (all doctorates) from schools in Canada, The United States and Australia. He has notably received an honorary doctorate from Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada), a nationally-renowned centre for environmental studies and activism.

Broadcasting career

Since 1979, Suzuki has hosted The Nature of Things, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television show that has aired in nearly fifty countries worldwide. He was also the host of the PBS series The Secret of Life. He was a professor in the zoology department at the University of British Columbia for over thirty years (from 1969 until his retirement in 2001), and has since been professor emeritus at a university research institute. A Planet for the Taking, a 1985 hit series, averaged over 1.8 million viewers per episode and earned him a United Nations Environment Program Medal in 1985.

He also did The Sacred Balance, a four hour mini-series on Canadian public television which was broadcast in October 2001.

Awards & honours

Suzuki is the author of thirty-two books (fifteen for children), including Genethics, Wisdom of the Elders, Inventing the Future, and the best-selling Looking At series of children’s science books.

Suzuki is the recipient of Canada’s most prestigious award, the Order of Canada (1976); UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for science (1986) and a long list of Canadian and international honours.

In 2004, David Suzuki was nominated as one of the top 10 "Greatest Canadians" by viewers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In the final vote he finished fifth. Suzuki said his own vote went to Tommy Douglas who was the eventual winner.

Suzuki was the first private Canadian consumer to purchase an electronic hybrid vehicle.


Suzuki was married to Setsuko Joane Sunahara from 1958 to 1965, with three children (Tamiko, Laura, and Troy). He married Tara Elizabeth Cullis in 1972. They have two daughters: Sarika and Severn Cullis-Suzuki. Severn, born in 1979, attended Yale and has also done environmental work, including speaking at environmental conferences. She is a member of Kofi Annan’s Special Advisory Panel.[1] (http://www.skyfishproject.org/skySevBio.html)

David Suzuki's Japanese name is Suzuki Takayoshi, but he is always known by his English name to the public, even in Japanese scientific and popular literature (using Romaji).

External links


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