Honorary Degree | UNB

Honorary degree recipient

Laurie Murison

Laurie Murison

The University of New Brunswick will award a posthumous honorary doctorate of science degree to Laurie Murison.

Laurie Murison was one of Atlantic Canada’s outstanding marine biologists, with a focus on the marine ecosystem of the Bay of Fundy. In over three decades of research, she gained an international reputation as one of the foremost experts on cetaceans, particularly North Atlantic right whales, and the capacity of the Bay of Fundy to sustain a diversity of species, from zooplankton to large marine mammals.

In her role as executive director of the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station, she undertook wide-ranging field research, from the feeding habits and habitats of whales to recording the occurrence of basking sharks in the Bay of Fundy to the migratory patterns of seabirds.

Her study demonstrated that Right Whale mortality was connected to a specific geographic area in the middle of the shipping lane, and she proposed that the shipping lane be moved. This required agreement by many agencies and levels of government in both Canada and the United States and submission of a proposal to the International Law of the Sea Convention which governs changes to shipping regulations. By unanimous approval (167 countries), signatories agreed to move the shipping lane 7 kms to reduce mortality.

Making marine biology part of the everyday has been a signature contribution of Laurie Murison, not just on Grand Manan, but for the international community of scientists engaged in research on marine ecosystems. She taught field schools in the region and hosted graduate students doing research on Grand Manan. As a member of the island’s community, she forged critically important working relationships with fishing communities around the Bay of Fundy, and fostered their support as active participants in and advocates of marine conservation.

Her commitment to her community extended to sitting on the board of directors of the Grand Manan Museum, and the restoration of a number of historic buildings including, Swallowtail Lighthouse, the Light Keepers duplex, the Winch house, and the elevated timber walkway and schoolhouse near the Grand Manan Museum.