Richard J. Wassersug

Adjunct Professor, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at LaTrobe University, and Department of Medical Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, University of British Columbia

MOST SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS:
i. Anuran Evolution and Development—For most of my career the primary focus of my research has been on the evolution and development of anurans (frogs and toads). In the past 30 years, I have published some 150 peer-reviewed papers on the physiology, endocrinology, behaviour and ecology of these organisms. I have written the encyclopedic account on their larvae for the Grzimek Encyclopedia and I am the most cited author in the major book on tadpole biology.

ii. Space Biology—In 1989, I was invited by NASA to participate in an experiment designed to investigate how the absence of gravity affected vertebrate development. The experiment successfully flew on the Space Shuttle and led to a variety of other experiments on the behaviour and development of animals in weightlessness. I have now published more papers on the scientific findings from microgravity research than any other Canadian.

iii. Science Communicator—An important part of my life has been as a science communicator. For ten years, I was a columnist on the TV science news show “Daily Planet” as well as “Scientist-in-Residence” for an additional five years for the Canadian Discovery Channel. I have received the two major science communicator awards available in eastern Canada. From 2000 until I moved to Vancouver in 2012, I was a science co-panelist for CBC Radio’s “Maritime Noon”, where I did a monthly science call-in show. I have also published over 30 science essays and reviews in newspapers and magazines, such as Natural History, Scientific American, New Scientist, American Scientist, Medical Post, New York Times, the Atlantic and Equinox.

iv. The Psychology of Androgen Deprivation—In the past decade I have begun to study how males adapt to androgen deprivation. I am exploring this topic in various populations—from male-to-female transsexuals to advanced prostate cancer patients. This research program has led to invitations to talk to prostate cancer support groups around North America, and opportunities to collaborate with scientists in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The primary goal of this research is to develop ways to help prostate cancer patients and their partners adapt to the side effects of hormone therapy as well as develop better prostate cancer treatment programs in general. One product of this research is the book “Androgen Deprivation Therapy: An essential guide for prostate cancer patients and their loved ones” which I am the lead author on. Although just published in June, 2014, the book has already sold over 20,000 copies.

Experience

  • 2012–2018
    Adjunct Professor, Department of Medical Neuroscience