It is with mixed feelings that we received news about the retirement of Professor Lewis Molot who joined then Faculty of Environmental Studies (now Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change) in 1990. Over the next 30 years, Professor Molot’s research interests have been on aquatic systems have included research topics of interests such as acidification, nutrient dynamics, carbon processing in lakes, climate change impacts on thermal stratification and oxygen depletion, eutrophication, and the development of environmental management modelling tools.
Notably, his long-standing research has focused on the increasing appearance of harmful algal blooms in lakes and reservoirs across Canada. The majority of these freshwater algal blooms are comprised of cyanobacteria which can produce liver and nerve toxins that have major negative impacts on fisheries, recreation, and drinking water supplies, posing immediate risks to humans, wildlife, and the Canadian economy. In response to these concerns, Professor Molot’s research work has discovered how cyanobacteria proliferate such that the depletion of oxygen along the bottom of aquatic systems has led to the release of a specific form of iron from sediments that is vital to cyanobacteria metabolism. His research has studied the impacts of climate change on oxygen depletion and provided technical solutions for the management of spreading cyanobacteria.
Despite “retired”, Professor Molot has continuing cyanobacteria research projects that examine the impacts and management of eutrophication and cyanobacteria blooms in Canada and around the world such as the Global Water Futures. He has published widely and in fact has a new journal article on “Low sediment redox promotes cyanobacteria blooms across a trophic range: implications for management” (Land and Reservoir Management, January 2021). Notably, his publications include journal articles which have studied the depletion of dissolved oxygen in large lakes, drivers of shifting phytoplankton communities in small and large lakes, and iron and photosynthetic bacteria dynamics in Boreal Shield lakes in northwestern Ontario which can reveal information about ancient oceans before the world became oxygenated.
Thank you for very much for your limnology research, the amazing, ground breaking work you did as chair of the Program Advisory Committee of Eco-Schools for almost 15 years from 2005 to 2018; the great service you have performed having also served as the Associate Dean and Graduate Program Director of the Faculty from 1998 to 2001. We hope you that even in your retirement, you maintain your commitment to meaningful engagement on the Great Lakes!
With a BSc in Zoology, an MSc in Limnology, and a PhD in Oceanography, Professor Molot has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in applied ecology. He has worked with students who conduct research that examine the relationships between science, management and sustainable development. Indeed, he has contributed much to the evolution of the Faculty and positively impacted the development of its programs as well as the training and mentoring of his students.
To be a great mentor, you must care and that is how his students generally describe Lew – straightforward with his teachings, but nonetheless helpful and understanding. Staff find him a pleasure to work with as he treats them with kindness and respect. Colleagues appreciate his even-keeled nature and positive spirit. He will surely be missed but we wish the best on his next journey. Again, thank you for your legacy and for all your contributions to our faculty, staff and students. Congratulations and all the best wishes for a wonderful retirement!