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Massey Medal

2014 Winner - Dr. Derald Smith

Lt. Gov Donald Ethell, Dr. Derald Smith (holding medal), Dr. Nancy Smith, Linda Ethell (Photo: Lynn Moorman)

University of Calgary geographer Dr. Derald Smith has been awarded the 2014 Massey Medal in Calgary by Alberta Lieutenant-Governor Donald Ethell. Dr. Smith earned an international reputation as the leading authority on anastomosing rivers – a distinct type of multi-channeled and stable river pattern found in low-gradient conditions such as deltas, but also for his pioneering work on ground-penetrating radar. His research has had a wide-ranging impact on a number of fields including ecology, biology, water management, engineering, geophysics and environmental protection. But perhaps his biggest influence has been on new generations of geo-literate citizens, because in every paper, project, lesson, and field trip, Smith emphasized the geographic imperative and spatial perspective that have allowed them to see the  “the Big Picture.”

The RCGS was saddened to learn that Dr. Derald Smith passed away on June 18th, 2014, his 75th birthday, after a brief battle with cancer. His legacy will carry forward with the new generations of geo-literate citizens that have been motivated and inspired by his exceptional contributions to geography. Dr. Smith and his family have donated his medal and citation to the Department of Geography at the University of Calgary to inspire young geographers.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society remembers the late Derald Smith, an outstanding geographer and the 2014 Massey Medal winner, for his exploration and explanation of Canadian landscapes. The Society was saddened to learn that Smith died on June 18 at age 75, after a brief battle with cancer.

Smith was internationally recognized for his work in identifying and mapping the effects of glaciation in western and northern Canada, and discovered the processes and deposits of river systems that create oil and gas reservoirs. He was also a pioneer in the application of ground-penetrating radar, and his research has helped Alberta’s oil and gas exploration and development. Smith’s work also helped the oil and gas industry to reduce the environmental footprint of deep-oil extraction sites.

Perhaps his biggest impact, though, was as a teacher. At the University of Calgary, Smith taught his geography students to see the “the big picture” in a way that helped them apply geography to their everyday lives.

— Emanuela Campanella, (Canadian Geographic, Your Society, Oct 2014)

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