Gerry Fitzgerald Scholarships

Two Gerry FitzGerald Scholarships are given annually to two graduate students who present papers at the SQÉBC meetings.

Gerry FitzGerald was a behavioural ecologist and a professor at Laval University from 1976 to 1994. Born in Newfoundland, he studied under J. Roger Bider at Macdonald College, McGill (M.Sc.) and Miles Keenleyside at Western Ontario (Ph.D.). He died young, of brain cancer, in the midst of a promising career in which he contributed much to the field of behavioural ecology (more than 80 refereed articles and book chapters) mostly on the behavioural ecology of fish.

Gerry was outspoken and not intimidated in his choice of people and subjects to criticize. He deplored the idea of being “politically correct”. He mixed his passion for behavioural ecology with his love of hockey, martial arts and his Kawasaki motorcycle. He never backed down from an argument. (For a more detailed description of Gerry’s career see Environmental Biology of Fishes 42: 109-113,1995 doi: 10.1007/BF00044126.)

Gerry was a regular contributor at SQÉBC meetings and could often be found outside the lecture halls debating current topics or discussing a recent talk. Gerry insisted on quality research and top-notch presentations at conferences. He encouraged his students to present their research at SQÉBC meetings and he insisted in high-quality presentations, even if it meant long hours listening to rehearsals. Gerry was devoted to his graduate students (several of whom have had great success in their research careers), and they to him. He ensured that they acquired not only a good understanding of the field of behavioural ecology but also a passion for it.

It is thus appropriate that the SQÉBC honours Gerry FitzGerald by awarding two bursaries to students who present their research at the annual meeting.

William Vickery
Département des sciences biologiques, UQAM


Don relaxing close to a stream during a sunny afternoon, on the "island of beauty".

© Photo archives Université de Sherbrooke.

Don Thomas Scholarships

Two Donald W. Thomas scholarships are given annually to two students (2nd or third year) who present a paper, oral or poster, at the annual SQEBC meeting.

Donald W. Thomas (Don) grew up in Montréal. He did a masters in animal ecology at Carleton University and a doctorate in tropical ecology at the University of Aberdeen. Don then pursued a career as a professor in ecophysiology at the University of Sherbrooke between 1985 and 2009. At the time of his death, Don was the dean of the Faculty of Science. He developed long-term empirical studies on several species, notably bats and blue tits.

Don was a warm and colorful person. He was recognized for his enthusiams and, his passion for scientific questions and empirical research. He did not hesitate to give his opinion and to initiate debates, always with his celebrated anglophone accent. He also loved to push students to excel by posing them all sorts of conceptual questions, some of which had no clear answer. His lab contained all sorts of inventions for solving the daily challenges of fieldwork, such as a remote control car that was transformed into the perfect tool to trap tits in their nestboxes.

Don's scientific contribution was impressive. He was the author of more than 100 scientific articles and 20 book chapters. He also supervised many students that have gone on to be professors and members of SQEBC. To the regret of his family, his colleagues, his students and his friends, Don's career was cut short after his sudden death during fieldwork in Corsica (For more details on Don's career, see Careau and  Fenton  (2009). "Obituary: Donald William Thomas (1953–2009)". Écoscience 16 (4): iii–iv. doi:10.2980/019.016.0404).

Don was a faithful attendant of the SQEBC meetings (and their banquets). He strongly encouraged the students to participate. Given his large contribution to the society, SQEBC now offers two scholarships to students who present the results of their research at the annual meeting.


Fanie Pelletier,
Département de biologie, Université de Sherbrooke