Dick Peter, former President and 2006 Fry Medal Awardee of the Canadian Society of Zoologist, passed away unexpectedly on March 8 in Vancouver Island, B.C. of a cardiac rupture. He was 64.
Dick obtained his BSc and PhD from the University of Calgary (formerly the University of Alberta, Calgary Campus) and the University of Washington, respectively. Dick’s first encounter with “fish biology” was when he participated in a provincial fish survey exercise in southern Alberta. Following a short post-doctoral period in Bristol, England, he took up his academic appointment at the University of Alberta where he spent his entire career. He served two terms as Chair, Department of Zoology and two terms as Dean, Faculty of Science. At the time of his untimely death, he was Director, Bamfield Marine Sciences Center.
Dick was internationally recognized for his work on the neuroendocrine regulation of reproduction and growth in fish. The LINPE method of induction of spawning of agricultural fish with the OVAPRIM kit was one of the practical results of his research in this area. He pioneered the use of radiofrequency stereotaxic thermal brain lesions and intracerebral ventricular injection to study the physiological role of various hypothalamic nuclei, neuropeptides and neurotransmittors in the regulation of pituitary hormone secretion in fish. He also produced brain stereotaxic atlases for several fish species for such experimental purposes. His lab was also one of the first to develop and make use of the then new radioimmunoassay technology to measure fish pituitary hormone secretion in the 1970’s. For his contribution to this whole area of comparative endocrinology, he was awarded the Pickford Medal in 1985 (for seminal contribution to the field of comparative endocrinology by a young scientist under the age of 45). For his contribution to the field of fish endocrinology, a named lecture series (The R.E. Peter Lecture) was inaugurated at the 5th International Symposium on Fish Endocrinology in 2004 in Spain. These and many other awards, including membership in the Royal Society of Canada, attest to his world recognized scientific contribution to the field of fish neuroendocrinology and comparative endocrinology.
Dick was not only a great scientist, but he was also a great mentor and his success in mentoring was recognized by a Best Mentoring Award from the University of Alberta.
Besides excelling in science and research, Dick also had a great appreciation and knowledge of fine wine, food, art, ceramics and music. This “renaissance” man also successfully took up salmon fishing last year. Dick and his wife Leona liked to take long walks and explore nature. Thus Dick viewed his appointment at Bamfield not only as a new challenge and adventure, but also as a great place to appreciate nature. The love of nature and the arts are also inherited by his sons, Jason and Matthew, of whom Dick is also very justifiably proud.
Dick will always be fondly remembered by his many associates, colleagues and friends as a true gentleman.