Blue Racer Award Recipients

Back to the awards page

Year Recipient Comments
2001 Dr. Francis Cook
Canadian Museum of Nature


Dr. Cook (left) with Christine Bishop

2002 Dr William (Bill) B. Preston
Manitoba Museum




2003 Robert R. Johnson
Toronto Zoo, Curator of Amphibians


Robert R. Johnson (L) with Ben Porchuk (M) & David Galbraith (R)

2005 Dr. Ronald J. Brooks
University of Guelph




2006 Dr. Patrick T. Gregory
University of Victoria


Pat (R) with Ron Brooks

2007 Dr. David M. Green
McGill University


Dave(R) with Ron Brooks (L) and Pat Gregory (M)

2010 Dr. John Gilhen
Curator Emeritus of the Nova Scotia Museum



In recognition of his continuing contribution to public understanding of the issues of amphibian decline, the importance of amphibians to aquatic ecosystems and the status of the wood turtle in Nova Scotia through his publications in broadly accessible nature magazines and lectures to the general public and amateur specialist groups. His annual spring "salamander meander" has been an annual public program through the Nova Scotia Museum for 27 years!

His 1984 volume, the Amphibians and Reptiles of Nova Scotia, remains the definitive work on the 24 species then known to occur in the province (one has since been added).

Full citation is available here
2011 Wayne Weller






Wayne Weller of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for both his private and professional efforts to map and monitor the diversity of herps in Ontario. Wayne was one of the co-founders (with Mike Oldham) of the Ontario Herp Summary, the largest herp atlas in the world. He continues to work and add to this database and remains one of the biggest contributors of records to the project. Wayne spends more personal time than any other non-professional herpetologist that I know in the field documenting species occurrence records. Most occurrence records for Northern Ontario were contributed by Wayne. Through his employment, Wayne has risen to become a senior environmental scientist with OPG and he continues to strive to have his employer consider Herp SAR and to institute monitoring programs at its generating stations. Wayne has also collaborated or assisted many of us in our own research and conservation efforts and has managed to keep publishing despite being engaged in other environmental duties. He is a long-standing CARCNET member and conference attendee.
2012 Dr. Jim Bogart
University of Guelph



2013 Dr. Roger Bider
McGill University



Dr Roger Bider was honored posthumously with the Blue Racer award for his career achievements, which include his pioneering work and devotion to the conservation and research of amphibians and reptiles in Quebec. Dr. Bider was a professor at McGill University and founded the Ecomuseum zoo, a well-recognised organization known for research, conservation and education projects on amphibian and reptiles in Quebec.
2014 Dr. Tom Herman
Acadia University

Dr. Herman is a Professor at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. Dr. Herman has authored or co-authored more than 50 refereed publications, presented more than 70 papers at professional conferences around the world, and generated more than $1.3 million in external and contract research funding. Dr. Herman is a Past President of the Canadian Society of Zoologists, President of the Science and Management of Protected Areas Association, and Vice-Chair of the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute. He sits on several national and regional advisory committees on endangered biodiversity, as well as the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Environmental Science Network and the Offshore Energy Environmental Research Association. In Nova Scotia, he is perhaps best known for his work in and around Kejimkujik National Park on recovery efforts for the endangered Blanding's Turtle. Dr. Herman, his colleagues, students and community volunteers have worked to preserve and restore the habitat of this unique species through a campaign of public education and stewardship. Throughout his career, Dr. Herman has actively promoted environmental awareness, citizen science, and community engagement.
2015 Dr. Steve Hecnar
Lakehead University

Dr. Stephen J. Hecnar was presented with the Blue Racer Award in recognition of his outstanding life-long contributions to applied reptile and amphibian research and conservation in Canada. Dr. Hecnar is a Professor of Biology at Lakehead University in Ontario. He has over thirty years of herpetological research experience and over 100 published research contributions. Dr. Hecnar's dedication to long-term studies of Five-lined Skink and amphibian populations in southwestern Ontario has revealed information on landscape-scale processes and long-term population dynamics that is invaluable to the management and conservation of these species. Dr. Hecnar has been actively involved in reptile and amphibian conservation throughout his career, including serving as a member of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada Reptile and Amphibian Species Subcommittee and on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Herpetological Society. Dr. Hecnar has also been an inspiration to many students that have pursued careers in reptile and amphibian conservation, as was evident during the presentation of this award by Dr. Connie Browne, one of Steve's former students.
2016 Dr. Jacqueline D. Litzgus
Laurentian University


Dr. Jacqueline D. Litzgus was presented with the Blue Racer Award in recognition of significant contributions to reptile and amphibian research and conservation in Canada. Dr. Litzgus is a professor at Laurentian University in Ontario. She has established Laurentian University as an entirely new 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 andrecoveryactions for Canada's reptiles at risk.Dr. Litzgus is a member of the CHS Board of Directors and the COSEWIC Amphibians and Reptiles Specialist Subcommittee, co-editor of The Canadian Herpetologist, and member of various recovery teams and research and conservation committees. Dr. Litzgus has mentored many talented undergraduate and graduate students, and has created what amounts to an entirely new generation of well-trained, theoretically grounded, methodologically competent, communication-savvy educators, managers, and researchers. The groundwork she has laid through a critical mass of published research and student mentoring augers well for the future of the discipline in Canada, and will likely inspire others to take up the same torch. As such, her cumulative contributions have far exceeded typical expectations of the short time-frame in which they occurred.
2017 Dr. Pamela Rutherford
Brandon University


Steve Hecnar (L) presenting Blue Racer Award to Pamela Rutherford (R), 2017

This year the Blue Racer Award was presented to Dr. Pamela Rutherford in recognition of her significant contributions to reptile and amphibian conservation in Canada, in particular her work in prairie ecosystems and with Prairie Skink populations in Manitoba. Dr. Rutherford is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology at Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba. She also supervises students in the Environmental Science Program and the Masters of Environmental and Life Sciences at Brandon University. She has been carrying out herpetological research for over 25 years since she started her Ph.D. studying Northern Alligator Lizards and Western Skinks with Dr. Patrick Gregory at the University of Victoria. Throughout her career her research focus has primarily been on lizards, and in Manitoba she has carried out extensive research on Northern Prairie Skinks, but she also works with a variety of other amphibian and reptile species. Her ongoing, dedicated service to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles also includes participation in both local and national organizations, including membership on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) Amphibians and Reptiles Specialist Subcommittee and the board of Directors of the Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network (CARCNET) and now the CHS.
2018 Dr. Karl Larsen
Thompson Rivers University


Stephanie Winton (L) presenting the Blue Racer award to Karl Larson (R)

Dr. Karl Larsen was presented with the Blue Racer award in recognition of his long-term, cumulative contribution to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Canada. A professor at Thompson Rivers University, Dr. Larsen has always been interested in conservation biology guided by scientific research. a professor at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. Dr. Larsen's interest is in research on fundamental questions in ecological theory with a focus on movement ecology. Over the years, his research and strong partnerships with government, industry, and non-profit organizations has led to the implementation of conservation programs, recovery actions, and mitigation measures for many species. Dr. Larsen is a key member of the research team working on the longest-running snake conservation project in B.C., which examines the long-term impacts of development on species-at-risk. He is an active member of the provincial snake and amphibian recovery teams and is currently advising the BC government on a provincial range-wide snake den monitoring project. He makes time to talk to newspapers and radio stations as well as participate in events such as World Snake Day to raise public awareness about these often-maligned creatures and the conservation issues they face. By conducting ecologically sound research that supports conservation measures, Dr. Larsen has contributed greatly to amphibian and reptile conservation in Canada.
2019 Anne Yagi
8Trees Inc.




Anne Yagi was presented with the Blue Racer award in recognition of her long-term, cumulative contribution to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Canada. Anne is an independent consultant and founder of 8Trees Inc. who worked in the field of amphibian and reptile conservation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for over 30 years. Anne started to focus on projects monitoring and protecting species-at-risk populations in the 1990s, including populations of Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, Spotted Turtle, Fowler’s Toad, and Allegheny Mountain and Northern Dusky Salamanders. She is currently the Chair of the Fowler’s Toad and Dusky Salamander Recovery and Implementation teams, and a member of recovery teams for the Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, Ontario turtles, and Massasauga Rattlesnake. Anne documented population declines, developed the “life-zone” concept for understanding subterranean winter survival, and designed ecosystem experiments aimed at establishing and encouraging winter habitat restoration for Massasauga Rattlesnakes over 15 years of dedicated research. She has mentored and employed numerous field staff, providing them with unique experiences to study and protect many of Ontario’s species-at-risk. Through her efforts as founder of 8Trees Inc., Anne has developed outreach programs with local communities to promote awareness of sensitive breeding habitat for Fowler’s Toads, citizen science efforts for species-at-risk, and is always a valiant defender of herps and their habitats throughout Southern Ontario.
2020 David Seburn
Canadian Wildlife Federation




David Seburn was presented with the Blue Racer award in recognition of his long-term, cumulative contribution to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Canada. David has been conducting field research and applied conservation projects with Ontario’s reptiles for many years as an independent ecologist and, more recently, as the Freshwater Turtle Specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. His work has had a strong focus on turtle conservation and road ecology, including work with government and other partners to implement and test the effectiveness of road mitigation fencing along Highway 7 — one of the worst road mortality corridors for turtles in Ontario. Over the years, David has published peer-reviewed research papers, recovery strategies, COSEWIC reports, as well as outreach and educational materials on reptiles and amphibians, including major contributions to content on the CHS website; he has been an Associate Editor for the Canadian Field-Naturalist since 2011. David has been actively involved in local and national conservation organizations and committees for many years, including the Ontario Multi-Species Turtles at Risk Recovery Team and the Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network (CARCNET). As the Chair of the CHS Conservation Committee, David has been a driving force for CHS’s conservation work, including coordinating the review of provincial and national recovery strategies and the writing of letters to local, provincial, and national governments to inform policy and conservation action. Through his devotion to this work, combined with his penchant for collaborating and willingness to engage the public, students, and other budding naturalists, David has inspired and engaged many prospective herpetologists and conservation biologists over the years.