The People Behind the Pacific WildLife Foundation

Executive and Board of Directors

Dr. Rob Butler, President

robbutlerDr. Butler has four decades of broad academic, conservation and executive experience as a senior government scientist, professor, science advisor and executive member of several non-government organizations in Canada and abroad. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithologists Union and The Explorer’s Club, and an Outstanding Alumnus of two universities.


Dr. Ron Ydenberg, Vice President
Dr. Ydenberg is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University where he directs over 25 students in a wide range of ecological research. He is also Professor in Wildlife Management, at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands.

Ian de W. Semple, Secretary Treasurer
Ian has extensive experience as a geologist, mining investment analyst in the financial business, and in company management. He brings a strong understanding of the bridges needed between business, the sciences and the environment. Ian is also an artist and author. His work may be viewed on his website.

Dr. Jim Darling, Director
Dr. Darling pioneered field research on gray whales since the early 1970s. He earned a doctoral degree from the University of California Santa Cruz in 1983 for his research on humpback whales. His research has appeared on numerous television programs and magazines including National Geographic.

Rod MacVicar, Director
Rod MacVicar is a retired high school teacher with three decades of experience teaching environmental education to students. He co-founded with Ruth Foster a salmon hatchery over three decades ago and a Fisheries Ecology program for students. He has worked alongside many researchers, television documentary filmmakers and marine educators. Rod has received numerous national and regional awards. He is a Master Mariner and co-owner of an ecotour company.

Gillian Darling Kovanic, Director
Gillian Darling is an award-winning television documentary director and producer. She has produced films on health, education, agriculture and economic development, and worked for National Film Board of Canada. She co-produced the Gemini Ward winning documentary Island of Whales with West Coast Whale Research Foundation, and owns a film company.

Rudi Kovanic, Director
Rudi was the cinematographer for the highly acclaimed science series, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. During his more than 35 years of film and video documentary experience, Rudi has specialized in scientific subjects—including natural history, the humanities, anthropology, medicine, technology and the environment. In 1995, Rudi founded Tamarin Productions and now works as an independent cinematographer. He has won many national and international awards at scientific, environmental and natural history film festivals including the President’s Award from CBC, two Golden Plaques at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Ruth Foster
IMG_9058Ruth is a retired teacher nationally recognized as one of Canada’s foremost environmental education specialists. Her awards include a prestigious Canadian Environmental Award Gold Medal for Environmental Learning, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award, Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and several regional awards. She sites on the executive of several societies and is a field instructor with Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education International Studies program.

Tom Middleton, Director
tom2Tom Middleton is an award winning wildlife photographer. His photos have appeared in newspapers, science journals, online articles, magazines, posters, books and other publications. Tom’s photos are widely used by the local scientific community as a descriptive enhancement for talks, papers and publications. More on Tom Middleton

Financial Advisor
Rudy North, OC
Rudy North is one of three founding partners of Phillips, Hager and North Investment Management, and the President of North Growth Management Ltd. Rudy is one of British Columbia’s significant participants and generous donors to social and environmental causes. In 1998, he founded North Growth Management Ltd., specifically to pass on his philosophy and expertise to younger managers. Rudy North was conferred a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa by Simon Fraser University and he is a member of the Order of Canada.

Fellows are distinguished scientists who work independently on their own projects to provide expertise in fields of study requested by the Board.

Dr. Dan Esler,
Dr. Esler is a research biologist of the US government in Alaska. He has also been a Research Associate with the Centre for Wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University, where he led a research group focusing on effects of habitat change in coastal environments on migratory bird populations. His work has appeared in a wide array of scientific journals, and also has been featured in newspaper, radio, and television outlets.

Dr. Eric Anderson
Dr. Anderson is an Instructor in the Department of Renewable Resources at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. His interests are in the research of marine bird ecology and conservation, and in teaching applied ecology.

Professor Isabelle Côté
Dr. Côté is a marine biologist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University where her research is linked to marine conservation such as marine protected areas, coral reefs and invasive species.

Professor Larry Dill
Dr. Dill is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His research interests concern the role of behaviour in mediating interspecific interactions, particularly predation, in marine ecosystems.

Dr. Alejandro Frid
Dr. Frid is an ecologist working independently and with the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. His research topics have included the conservation of endangered South American deer, conflicts between industrial development and terrestrial wildlife, and predator-prey behavioural interactions in marine communities. He currently studies the ecological consequences of over-exploiting marine top predators.

Dr. Richard Rawlins
Dr. Rawlins, Ph.D., HCLD (ABB) is a Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Professor of Anatomy & Cell Biology at Rush Medical College, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL. He is also an adjunct Professor of Comparative Medicine at the University o Puerto Rico. He holds an MA in Biological Anthropology from Northwestern University and a Ph.D in Zoology from Michigan State University. He specializes in preimplantation embryology, primate reproductive physiology and population biology.

Professor John Reynolds
Dr. Reynolds is the Tom Buell BC Leadership Chair in Salmon Conservation and a Professor of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Canada. His interests are in the conservation and ecology of Pacific salmon and their ecosystems.

Professor Andrew Trites
Dr. Trites is a Professor and Director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia. His interests are in the research of marine mammals and public outreach of science.

Associates work on projects led by the Directors or Fellows.

Iain M. Jones
Iain is a biologist with Golder and Associates in Burnaby. He holds a diploma in Fish and Wildlife Management from the British Columbia Institute of Technology and a Master of Science degree from Simon Fraser University. He brings a wealth of managerial and field experience and logistical talent.

Dr. Sean Boyd
Dr. Sean Boyd is a research scientist with Environment Canada in Vancouver and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University. His specializes on the biology of migratory waterfowl that involve radio-telemetry.

Sofi Hindmarch, MSc
Sofi Hindmarch is a Barn Owl specialist. She has assessed the significance of land use on the owl’s distribution, breeding success and their diet. Sofi speaks to schools and naturalists groups, and advises municipalities about owls. Her research has been featured on television, in newspapers and magazines. She is currently investigating how rat poisons are indirectly impacting raptor populations in the Lower Mainland.

Dr. Holly Middleton
Dr. Holly Middleton is an ecologist interested in the effects of intensive agriculture on migratory birds, especially waterfowl. She also has many years of experience with field work on a variety of birds in western Canada.

Todd Golumbia
IMG_9060Todd was a Parks Canada ecologist and an ongoing collaborator with the Pacific WildLife Foundation projects. Todd holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Saskatchewan and a Master of Science degree from the University of British Columbia in Forest Ecology. He has worked at several National Parks in western Canada as an Ecologist and a Park Warden since 1982. He is now a consulting biologist.

Kate Keogh
IMG_9062-(1)Kate is co-administrator of North Vancouver Outdoor School with Bachelor degrees in Zoology and Education and a Master of Arts degree in science and environmental education from the University of Victoria. She brings an understanding of classroom curriculum and practical ways that information from researchers can be incorporated into curriculum and made relevant to school age children. Kate has been a research assistant on gray whale, humpback whale, harbour seal and basking shark research. Kate served as a Director of PWLF for 8 years.

Wendy Szaniszlo
Wendy is a marine mammalogist who has worked on sea lion, gray whale and humpback whale research projects in collaboration with government, academic and not-for-profit organizations. She holds two degrees from the University of Victoria. Wendy has worked on species-at-risk and as a marine naturalist with Parks Canada, BC Parks, and local eco-tour companies. Wendy is collaborating with the Pacific WildLife on the seasonal abundance and distribution of sea lions in Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds.

Mike McKinlay
Mike McKinlay is the owner of Mike McKinlay Productions, an award winning film production company in Vancouver. He provides dedicated creative video services to the foundation, many of which are posted on this web site.

Douglas Swanston
Doug has worked as a marine biologist in British Columbia since 1985. He works throughout coastal and offshore waters in British Columbia and in the Arctic Ocean conducting marine biota and habitat surveys. He has recovered and relocated threatened and endangered freshwater and marine vertebrates and invertebrates while working on projects proceeding under the scrutiny of Species at Risk Legislation. Doug enjoys leading groups of all ages in discovery and exploration walks to the beach and has helped develop marine biology and outdoor education experiences for students from grades 2 through secondary school.