A small informal gathering of Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) Fellows got together for dinner last night at Gastown’s Steamworks Brew Pub in Vancouver. The evening was organized and hosted by Gilles Gagnier, Chief Operating Officer and Publisher of Canadian Geographic Magazine, and Jason Muscant, Director of Advancement, Fellows Committee, Awards, Research and Grants, Expeditions.
Among the RCGS Fellows in attendance were, Daisy Gilardini, Francois-Xavier DeRuydts, Aaron Salus, Pridiu Juurand and Melanie Knight along with special guests David McEown and Jillian Salus. Certainly, a welcome opportunity to meet an overall talented group of Canadians.
“It is clear that with your background, experience, and interests, you would be an ideal candidate for Fellowship.”
~ Royal Canadian Geographical Society
On November 16th, 2017, I was elected a Fellow of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS). The RCGS College of Fellows includes many of Canada’s eminent explorers, astronauts, writers, geographers, scientists, artists, anthropologists, soldiers, business leaders, historians, educators and even some former Prime Ministers. RCGS Fellows are deemed to have distinguished themselves by directly contributing to scientific knowledge in the field of geography, geographical exploration or allied sciences (i.e., archaeology, atmospheric sciences, marine biology, zoology, etc.). Such accomplishments are evidenced by published books, scientific publications or major mainstream media coverage documenting fieldwork, or exploration. In the Society’s own words:
“Making Canada Better Known To Canadians And The World.”
“Fellowship in the College has, since its inception in 1929, represented the very best of Canada, including distinguished individuals from many different fields, united in their commitment to the Society’s mission to celebrate the country, its geography and peoples.”
There were 892 active Royal Canadian Geographical Fellows as of June 30, 2017, including 80 Honorary Fellows. Today, they added 86 more Fellows. RCGS Fellows are entitled to use post-nominal letters FRCGS (Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society) after their surname.
Truly, beyond words.
I’m deeply honoured and look forward to making significant contributions to Canada’s centre for Geography and Exploration, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, for many years to come.
The Changing Face of the Arctic
A Night at the Royal Ontario Museum
Who was Lowell Thomas?
The 2017 Lowell Thomas Award Winners
HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, FI ‘14
Prince Albert II of Monaco has long been dedicated to the protection of the environment and focuses on fighting climate change, promoting renewable energy, combating the loss of biodiversity, and preserving water resources through his Prince Albert II Foundation. He has also participated in research expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, thus becoming the first head of state to reach both poles. He is a member of the Ocean Elders group and serves on the Advisory Committee for Students on Ice.
Donn Haglund, Ph.D., FE ‘72
Dr. Haglund is a Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Wisconsin, where he created and taught a pioneering Arctic wilderness field course for more than 40 years. He earned his Ph.D. in economic geography from the University of Pennsylvania, based on work done in Greenland. He is recognized internationally for his expertise in maritime transport in support of Arctic economic development, and for his dedication to scientific research in these areas.
Martin T. Nweeia D.M.D., D.D.S, FN ‘99
Dr. Martin Nweeia is a research scientist, explorer, professor and scholar on the functional significance of the narwhal tusk and Inuit knowledge. His landmark studies on narwhal tusk sensory function have earned him nine grants from the National Science Foundation, as well as awards from The National Geographic Society, Harvard University, and the Smithsonian Institution. He is currently lecturer at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, a clinical assistant professor at Case School of Dental Medicine, and a research associate in vertebrate zoology at the Smithsonian Institution.
Konrad Steffen, Dr.sc.nat.ETH
Dr. Konrad Steffen is Director, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research and Professor, Institute of Atmosphere & Climate, ETH-Zurich. Previously he was Director CIRES, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and Professor Emeritus of Geography, both positions at University of Colorado Boulder. His interests include climate and cryosphere interaction in polar and alpine regions. In particular, he researches sea level changes sensitivity studies of large ice sheets using in situ and modeling results.
Feeling kinda… wow!
I have always been enthralled with the study of biology, history and geography. It’s almost as if these cultural subjects were intertwined in my DNA. However, the following acknowledgement eclipses any marks I may have attained for all the hand-colored grade school maps I made tracing the routes of early Portuguese explorers such as Vasco De Gama, or Ferdinand Magellan. And so, it is a distinct honor that yesterday I was named a Fellow in the prestigious Royal Geographical Society (RGS) with the Institute of British Geographers.
This esteemed institute based in London is committed to the wider public understanding, promotion, development and enjoyment of geography, together with its application to the challenges facing society and the environment. The RGS also advances geographic knowledge through lectures and publications, through its libraries and map collections, and through instruction in surveying and the support of fieldwork expeditions, exploration and research.
The Royal Geographical Society was founded in 1830 under the name Geographical Society of London as an institution to promote the “advancement of geographical science”. It later absorbed the older African Association, which had been founded by Sir Joseph Banks in 1788, as well as the Raleigh Club and the Palestine Associated Like many learned societies, it had started as a dining club in London, where select members held informal dinner debates on current scientific issues and ideas. Under the patronage of King William IV, it later became known as the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). The society amalgamated with the smaller Institute of British Geographers in 1995, hence its formal title today is “Royal Geographical Society with The Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG)” although the latter name is often dropped.
The Royal Geographical Society has a storied history of supporting many famous British explorers and expeditions, including those of, Sir Charles Darwin, legendary African explorer Dr. David Livingstone, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Sir Robert Scott (Scott of the Antarctic), Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, and mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary to name a few. Among many other notable explorers and geographers, current fellows also include Michael Palin (Yes, that Michael Palin) who was the president of the RGS from 2009 to 2012. Fellowship in the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) is granted to those who can demonstrate evidence of his or her own work and academic publications in the field of geography and closely related subjects such as international development and climate change. Fellows in the RGS may use the post-nominal designation FRGS after their names. Since 1912, the Royal Geographical Society and its historical archives have been headquartered at Lowther Lodge, a Victorian Queen Anne style house built between 1872 and 1875 that faces Hyde Park in South Kensington, London, England.
Jett Britnell, FI’16, FRGS
“Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
The Explorers Club
It’s now official and it pleases me to no end to announce I have been named a “Fellow” in the world renowned Explorers Club. Established in 1904, the Explorers Club is a New York City-based professional society that includes approximately 3,000 members in more than 60 countries who are dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific exploration, and “the instinct to explore.” As of December 17, 2015, there were 229 members in the Explorer Club’s Canadian Chapter.
The Explorer Club’s mission statement is as follows:
“The Explorers Club promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. The Club’s members have been responsible for an illustrious series of famous firsts: First to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean, first to the surface of the moon—all accomplished by our members. The Explorers Club mission is to advance field research, scientific exploration, resource conservation, and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.”
A Fraternity Of Adventurers
Legendary members in this “fraternity of adventurers” has included Arctic explorer Robert Peary, Antarctic explorer Roald Amundsen, mountaineers Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, three former U.S. presidents, Kon-Tiki expedition’s Thor Heyerdahl along with modern day explorers such as marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle, inventor of sub sea submersibles and the NewtSuit Dr. Phil Nuytten, anthropologist Jane Goodall, film director James Cameron and Space-X founder Elon Musk to name just a few. Understandably, acceptance into this prestigious club is not awarded without merit. Fellowship in the Explorers Club is reserved for those individuals who have distinguished themselves in some way by directly contributing to scientific knowledge in the field of geographical exploration or allied sciences. Such accomplishments are proven by having a deep résumé of expeditions, adventures, scholarships, and/or publications documenting scientific fieldwork or explorations, but may also be documented in books, popular media, or broadcast media. Along with securing letters of support from two current club members, all new member applications are also vetted by a judicious membership panel at the Explorers Club headquarters.
Some Thank You’s Are In Order
I must express my sincere thanks to several people who encouraged and supported my membership application.
First, my sponsor, Susan R. Eaton (MI’11), P.Geol., P. Geoph., M.Sc., DIC, B.Sc. Hon., B.J. (Journalism) Hon., Regional Director, Prairies/NWT Explorers Club – Canadian Chapter, Explorers Club. Susan is also founder and leader of the 2014-2016 Sedna Epic Polar Expedition, named as one of Canada’s top 100 modern-day explorers by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2015, Susan has since been elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. It was over dinner earlier this year that Susan encouraged, and by her own words insisted, that I apply for membership to the Explorers Club. Susan, far beyond all your noteworthy accomplishments, you have more importantly become a close friend to both Kathryn and I. It is with sincere gratitude that I thank you for your inspiration, inner elegance, and enthusiastic support.
Second, and someone who I have known for half my lifetime, my co-sponsor and another close friend, Donnie Reid (FI’11), Canadian Chapter, Citation of Merit 2012. Donnie, we have shared about as much together in this lifetime as blood brothers. Thank you for your steadfast support and loyal friendship which means far more to me than mere words could ever express.
Third, John Pollack (FI’06), Membership Director of the Explorers Club Canadian Chapter and a nautical surveyor who was also named one of Canada’s top 100 modern-day explorers by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2015. John graciously volunteered to personally forward my application to the Explorers Club’s New York headquarters. John, I thank you so much for your kind support and generous spirit and I so look forward to perhaps sharing a great adventure and a fine scotch together in the years to come.
Last, and certainly not least, when I was seemingly dragging my heels with pulling together my membership application, it was my wife, Kathryn, who figuratively lit my flame when she emphatically stated, “You must, do this.” Kathryn, if I may paraphrase Emily Brontë, “Whatever our souls are made of, yours and mine are the same.” You are, without peer, the greatest adventure of them all.
Behind Every Beautiful Thing There’s Been Some Kind Of Pain
Of course, mom is immensely proud. Yet, I cannot escape the weight of words that Nobel laureate Bob Dylan once wrote, “Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain.” If there is anything at all bittersweet about this honor, it is that both my dad and younger brother are not alive to share this moment with me. My dad passed away 20 years ago this month, and my brother 10 ½ years ago. We love and miss them both and remain confident their spirits watch over us.
The Instinct To Explore
Sir Edmund Hillary once said, “Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.” On this third stone from the sun, there still remains much to be explored. Whether for science, humanity, conservation, or whether just doing it for the hell of it, the “instinct to explore” continuously beckons. I look forward to being an active member in the Explorers Club’s Canadian Chapter.
We just returned home today from a 19 day diving adventure in the Philippines. In the coming weeks, I will post some underwater images we took while diving with the Turtle Bay Resort in Cebu, The whale sharks at Oslob, and some images we gathered while diving with Solana Dive Resort at Anilao.
Not only an awesome wife, but Kathryn also proved herself to be a highly competent, low maintenance, underwater model / diver and budding underwater photographer. Thanks, baby! Life with you is amaze-balls!!