UVic researchers (L-R) Rachel Cleves, Robert Gifford, Chris Darimont, James Tanaka, at Finnerty Gardens, September 2019. Credit: UVic Photo Services.

Royal Society of Canada elects four University of Victoria researchers

Robert Gifford, James Tanaka, Rachel Cleves, Chris Darimont earn honours

Four University of Victoria (UVic) researchers have been elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). The RSC is a 137-year-old council of distinguished scholars and leaders recognized with the country’s highest academic honour. The new researchers are Professor Robert Gifford, James Tanaka, Rachel Cleves, and Chris Darimont.

Gifford is an expert in environmental psychology. He developed the term Dragons of Inactionthe reasons why people don’t do more to mitigate climate change. Gifford works towards understanding what it takes to improve climate-related human behaviour.

Gifford’s work attracts global media attention and government officials in the Netherlands and Canada. “I am honoured and privileged to be able to work on human decision-making about the environment. Helping to discover how people think about this crucial problem is what inspires me.”

Tanaka is internationally recognized as an expert on facial recognition. Much of his career focuses on facial recognition in people on the autism spectrum. Tanaka aspires to use his work as a bridge between education and community engagement.

These new tools are used to improve the lives of thousands of individuals with autism across the globe.

“[We] share a common belief that cognitive and brain sciences can unlock the mysteries of the human mind and this knowledge can be used to help others.”

SEE ALSO: New web tool aims to enlist Canadians to help find missing kids

Cleves is UVic’s first humanities scholar admitted as an RSC college member. Cleves uses historical stories to illuminate contemporary times.

“A lot of my work is dedicated to promoting diversity and equity,” Cleves says. Her writings push topical boundaries with violence, sexuality, and illicit sex.

“We can’t just write about the things that are romantic and erotic to us. We have to write about the unpleasant stuff too.” Cleves plans to continue her advocacy on equity and diversity as a member of the RSC.

Darimont is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist and the Raincoast Chair of Applied Conservation Science. His work focuses on ‘human predators’: hunters and fishers. He questions the causes and consequences of humanity’s predatory behaviour.

Darimont also works with Indigenous governments of coastal British Columbia researching wildlife and fisheries. This work provides habitat, foods, and security for culturally, economic, and ecologically important animals.

Darimont was an expert witness for the National Energy Board and Auditor General of BC. He was also an expert panel member on the design of BC’s proposed endangered species legislation. “I’m infinitely curious about the natural world, passionate about applied research to protect it, and have the privilege to work with extraordinary people who make a difference.”

SEE ALSO: WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Vancouver Island


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