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Day 3: Vancouver BioBlitz with Dr Scott Sampson

Don’t know what a Bioblitz is? We’ve got you covered: Our incoming CEO and President Dr Scott Sampson will be explaining everything you need to know live on periscope right before the event. Follow @scienceworldca for the periscope link and register for the Bioblitz here.

Have you ever wondered how Dr Scott became a science communicator and now the new President & CEO of Science World? 

"My journey began out in nature. Daily outdoor adventures on Vancouver’s west side, combined with periodic camping trips to wilder places, were the seeds that grew into a STEM-related career. My growing sense of wonder was fueled by these diverse experiences coupled with an array of books. I always enjoyed school, but, for me, life outside the classroom had the greatest impact on my future career.

"Like many children, I developed a passion for dinosaurs as a kid. Without exaggeration, "paleontology" was one of the first words I learned to spell. By the tender age of four, I had memorized dozens of multi-syllabic names of prehistoric creatures. I dug for fossils in the backyard (unsuccessfully) and came home from family camping trips with assortments of rocks (and occasional fossils), most of which were banished to the backyard. A black and white photo taken when I was four years old shows me hugging a cement Stegosaurus—true love. 

"Unlike most children, I never lost my passion for dinosaurs. Some say I never really grew up. After contemplating several alternative careers, I eventually chose to pursue a doctorate in zoology at the University of Toronto. My dissertation involved naming and describing two previously unknown horned dinosaurs discovered in Montana.

"In 1999, I accepted a dual position at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City as a paleontology curator at the Natural History Museum of Utah and an assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics. It was a dream job for a dino-guy like me, with museum resources for fieldwork and fossil preparation, access to graduate students, and plenty of amazing fossils to be discovered within a day’s drive. I also took advantage of opportunities to hunt dinosaurs (or at least their fossilized bones) in such far off places as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mexico and Madagascar. It seemed I was set for life.

"But in 2007, now a tenured professor and museum chief curator, I gave it all up. Well, most of it. I kept fossil hunting in Utah, but my wife Toni and I decided to move to northern California, where, for awhile, I devoted the bulk of my energies to science outreach. It was at this time that I began work on Dinosaur Train, an Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS television series produced by the Jim Henson Company. In my role as “Dr Scott,” I serve as the on-air host and science advisor of the series, which aims to inspire the curiosity of 3–7 year-olds around the natural sciences. This work has cemented my belief in the power of informal learning.

"Today I devote the bulk of my work time to being a non-profit executive. More than ever before, there is great need to foster a science-literate public, and to inspire youngsters to pursue STEM careers. Excellent work in this arena is being done by dozens of organizations in virtually every city in North America, and beyond. Yet we’re barely moving the needle at the civic scale. I’m convinced that the solution must involve high-level collaboration, with suites of diverse institutions—non-profit, government, higher education, and for-profit—partnering to leverage one another’s unique assets and thereby scale their efforts, achieving a breadth and depth of impact that none could hope to achieve on their own. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to participate in this pressing work through my new role as President and CEO of Science World. 


Ready to do your own BioBlitz? 

With this activity, you can make your own insect collecting device, known as insect pooters. These handy devices allow you to catch small insects gently so you can observe them up close before releasing them back into the wild. Which insects did you find? 

Are you planning a trip to Stanley Park today? Join us at the Stanley Park community Bioblitz from 10am until 2pm. You’ll be amazed at the diversity of life in the heart of Vancouver! You can also follow along from home on twitter: #StanleyBioblitz