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This Week in Research: Dr. Jacqueline Litzgus awarded the prestigious Blue Racer Award by the Canadian Herpetological Society

This Week in Research:  Dr. Jacqueline Litzgus awarded the prestigious Blue Racer Award by the Canadian Herpetological Society.


Dr. Jacqueline Litzgus, Professor in the Department of Biology, has been awarded the prestigious Blue Racer Award by the Canadian Herpetological Society (CHS). The name of the award may seem a little obscure, but the Blue Racer is the rarest snake in Canada, and the award was named to recognize the rare individuals that contribute greatly to research and conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Canada. Dr. Litzgus is the first woman and the youngest/earliest career scientist to receive the award. When asked about the importance of the award, Dr. Litzgus responded: “I was truly honoured, and more than a little surprised, to be presented with this award at the CHS conference banquet.  In fact, I was speechless when I was called to the podium!  To be recognized by one’s peers is the highest reward.”

Since joining Laurentian in 2004, Dr. Litzgus has invigorated the world of Canadian herpetology through a combination of her investment in meaningful student training and rigorous research programs into little-understood areas of evolutionary ecology. She has also developed several important partnerships with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Ontario Parks, and has secured over $1.5 million in external funding to support her conservation focused research (from NSERC, CFI, World Wildlife Fund, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation, MNRF).  Through these actions, she has quickly established Laurentian University as an innovative and respected centre of regional and Canadian herpetology.


Her research program combines field and lab-based approaches, and basic and applied science. Projects in her lab address questions in the areas of evolutionary ecology and conservation biology of reptiles, including examination of the adaptive significance of life-history variation, and the application of these data to mitigation and recovery actions for Canada’s reptiles at risk. Dr. Litzgus is co-editor of CHS’s newsletter, The Canadian Herpetologist, and was recently elected Vice-president of the society. 

But where Litzgus really shines is in the area of student training. She has she attracted an assemblage of talented and interested undergraduate and graduate students to Laurentian University, where she devotes much of her time to serious mentoring in field biology, appropriate laboratory parallels, application of innovative thinking and methodologies, and how best to communicate these to both fellow scientists and the public.

More recently, Dr. Litzgus has joined forces with Laurentian’s Centre for Evolutionary Ecology and Ethical Conservation (CEEEC),  an interdisciplinary group of researchers interested in both theoretical and applied aspects of ecology and evolution, including biodiversity conservation and its ethical and philosophical implications.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Litzgus on her prestigious award!