Phd Mathematics (Standford University)
Jon Schnute obtained a Ph.D. in mathematics at Stanford University longer ago than he cares to remember. Fate brought him to Peter Larkin at UBC, where he started work in fisheries ecology. In those heady days of the 1970s, Buzz Holling ran the Institute of Animal Resource Ecology. The Jon of that era had no idea that Buzz would someday become his next-door neighbor, but that’s how things have turned out. Complex resilient systems (e.g., life on planet earth) sometimes play strange tricks on people.
In another twist of fate, Peter Larkin had once been the Director of the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. He helped Jon find employment there as a research scientist, and Jon held that position for more than 30 years until he retired in 2007. His published papers describe analytical methods that have influenced the development of fisheries stock assessment and annoyed students who had to learn them. He still works actively in this area and also develops open source software tools to implement his ideas. He particularly enjoys mentoring the next generation of students who have some interest in modeling techniques.
Buzz Holling and Jon have recently founded the Canterbury Resilience Society and Drop-In Centre in Nanaimo. Jon considers himself the resident gadfly, and he constantly challenges the very mathematical ideas that he espouses. In 2011, he presented some of his latest thoughts about this in a lecture at UBC titled Mathematics and Ecology: Heavenly Marriage, Shotgun Wedding, or Impending Divorce?