Publications & Resources

The Royal Society of Canada publishes an extensive range of special bulletins, electronic and print publications with the latest news from the Secretariat, RSC Fellows and Institutional Members. The RSC also produces various guides to serve as reference materials for Fellows, IMs and the general public alike.

In November 2011, the Royal Society of Canada published a comprehensive Strategic Plan entitled Strategy for Renewal and Growth 2012 - 2017. This plan was adopted by Council following a broad consultation among the fellowship and Institutional Members, and years of reflection about the vision, mission and mandate of the Society.

RSC Expert Panel Reports

The Behaviour and Environmental Impacts of Crude Oil Released into Aqueous Environments


A solid scientific understanding of the behaviour and environmental impacts of crude oil if accidentally released into aqueous environments can make an important contribution to the identification of optimal strategies for spill preparedness, spill response, and environmental remediation. A panel of experts is asked to review the state of the science on how various kinds of conventional and unconventional crude oils transported in North America interact with the surface waters and associated sediments (suspended, shoreline, ocean/lake/river floor) in marine, estuarine and freshwater settings under a wide range of environmental conditions.


The Expert Panel was set-up in response to a request from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). The panel is asked to address the following questions:

  1. How do the various types of crude oils compare in the way they behave when mixed with surface fresh, brackish or sea waters under a range of environmental conditions?
  2. How do the various crude oils compare in their chemical composition and toxicity to organisms in aquatic ecosystems?
  3. How do microbial processes affect crude oils in aquatic ecosystems, thereby modifying their physical and chemical properties and toxicity?
  4. Is the research community able to relate, with reliable predictions, the chemical, physical and biological properties of crudes to their behaviour, toxicity and ability to be remediated in water and sediments?
  5. Given the current state of the science, what are the priorities for research investments?
  6. How should these scientific insights be used to inform optimal strategies for spill preparedness, spill response and environmental remediation?

The panel will be holding a series of scientific stakeholder consultations between February and June 2015 which will be open and available to the public on the internet in real time as well as being made available later on the Society’s website. Formal oral presentations to the panel will be by invitation only, but the panel will accept all written contributions of scientific evidence and its interpretation. Research experts wishing to make an oral presentation to the Panel should contact Russel MacDonald, Officer of Expert Panels.

Stakeholder Consultations:

February 4-5, 2015
April 8-10, 2015


Dr. Kenneth Lee, Chair - Commonwealth Science Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia
Dr. Michel Boufadel - New Jersey Institute of Technology
Dr. Bing Chen - Memorial University of Newfoundland
Dr. Julia Foght - University of Alberta
Dr. Peter Hodson - Queen's University
Dr. Stella Swanson - Swanson Environmental Strategies
Dr. Albert Venosa - United States Environmental Protenction Agency

Dr. Ken LeeDr. Kenneth Lee currently the Director of the Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia. His Flagship provides large-scale multidisciplinary science to support sustainable development of Australia’s marine estate and management of its atmospheric environment. Prior to joining CSIRO in 2013, he was the founding Executive Director of the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research (COOGER), Department of Fisheries and Oceans – Canada, which coordinated and implemented research programs with industry and academia to provide scientific knowledge and advice on the environmental risks associated with the development of Canada’s offshore oil and gas, and ocean renewable energy sector. 

Dr. Lee has over 35 years’ experience working in the field of aquatic science and is the author of more than 350 academic and technical publications. He currently holds Adjunct Professorship in the fields of oceanography/marine sciences and engineering at the University of Western Australia, Concordia University, Dalhousie University, and Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2010, Essential Science Indicators ( identified him as one of the top 10 scientists in oil spill research during the previous decade. He has been awarded the “Prix d’Excellence” for exemplary contributions in science (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and the Government of Canada’s “Federal Partners in Technology Transfer - Leadership Award” for technology transfer from a federal laboratory to the private sector. 

Dr. Lee has coordinated and led major international collaborative research programs with involving federal government agencies, academia, industry and the public. Deliverables from these research programs have supported the development and revision of national policies and regulations and international standards and governance for the protection of the marine environment. 


Dr. Michel BoufadelDr. Michel Boufadel is Professor of Environmental Engineering and Director of the Center for Natural Resources Development and Protection at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is a Professional Engineer in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a Board Certified Professional Engineer, and a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers. Dr. Boufadel is currently serving on the US National Academies National Research Council Committee on the impact of diluted bitumen on the environment. He also served recently on two similar committees related to oil. He also served on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science Advisory Board on natural gas extraction from shale formations (2011-2012).

Dr. Boufadel has been conducting assessment and remediation projects on the transport and fate of chemicals in multimedia: oceans, lakes, rivers, and aquifers. His approach is holistic and multiscale, integrating processes from the nano scale to the mega scale. His recent work includes the remediation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and assessment of oil fate in the environment following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Dr. Boufadel has more than 100 refereed articles in environmental engineering and science publications, such as NATURE geosciences and Environmental Science and Technology.


Dr. Bing ChenDr. Bing Chen is currently the leader of the Northern Region Persistent Organic Pollution Control (NRPOP) Laboratory, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and Chair of the Environmental Systems Engineering & Management Program at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada. He worked as NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at University of British Columbia and conducted visiting research in Environment Canada before joining Memorial University in 2006.

Dr. Chen’s research expertise and interest lie in the areas of offshore oil spill response and mitigation, marine/coastal pollution modeling and control, petroleum waste management and site remediation, wastewater treatment and reuse, persistent organic pollution modeling and control, environmental nanobiotechnology, wetland/watershed modeling and management, and decision making under uncertainty. He has acted as PI or Co-PI in over 40 research projects funded by industries, governments and communities at regional, national and international levels. He has produced more than 230 technical publications including over 70 refereed journal articles and over 110 refereed book chapters and conference publications.


Dr. Julia FoghtDr. Julia Foght is Professor Emerita at the University of Alberta, where she was a Professor of Petroleum Microbiology in the Department of Biological Sciences from 1994 to 2014. Julia received the Petro-Canada Young Innovators Award in 2001, a McCalla Professorship in 2011 from the University of Alberta, and in 2014 the Alberta Science & Technology Foundation (ASTech) award in Innovation in Oil Sands Research. She has been a member of the Canadian Biological and Chemical Defence Review Committee since 2009 and is currently Chair. She is a member of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists, the American Society for Microbiology and is a charter member of the International Society of Microbial Ecology.

Dr. Foght’s primary research interest since 1977 has been biodegradation of petroleum and refined products, including aerobic bioremediation of crude oil spills, biodegradation of jet fuel spills by Antarctic soil microorganisms (including a field trip to Antarctica) and, in the last 10 years, collaborative research on production of methane from coal and anaerobic degradation of hydrocarbons in oil sands tailings ponds. Her lab has developed techniques to apply molecular biology and next-generation DNA sequencing to tailings pond materials through the $11M Genome Canada-sponsored Hydrocarbon Metagenomics Project, for which she was a project co-Leader from 2010-2014. Numerous oil companies have supported her research as well as provincial and federal agencies. 


Dr. Peter HodsonDr. Peter V. Hodson is an ecotoxicologist and Professor Emeritus with Biology and the School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University. He began his career with Fisheries and Oceans at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, Ontario. He studied the toxicity of metals and phenolics to fish, in support of the development of Great Lakes Water Quality Objectives under the 1972 Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. At the Institut Maurice Lamontagne in Mont-Joli, Quebec, he investigated the role of American eel as a vector for contaminant transport to beluga whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary, and reported a precipitous drop in eel recruitment to Lake Ontario that lead to their listing as a threatened species. He has also collaborated with Environment Canada and Université Laval, where he assessed the impacts of pulp mill effluent on fish in the St. Maurice River, played a major role in designing the Federal Environmental Effects Monitoring program.

Dr. Hodson’s focus is the toxicity of crude oil to fish, including effects-driven fractionation to identify toxic components, structure-activity relationships of hydrocarbons, mechanisms of action of hydrocarbons, and interactions between oil dispersion and toxicity. His current project is to determine if oil spills to rivers will contaminate salmonid spawning shoals and impair salmonid production. Dr. Hodson has published more than 200 papers, book chapters, and refereed reports, and is a Past President of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Stella SwansonDr. Stella Swanson is an aquatic ecologist and risk assessment specialist.  Stella’s 30-year career has included management of the Aquatic Biology Group at the Saskatchewan Research Council, and consulting positions with SENTAR Consultants (now Stantec) and Golder Associates Ltd. (where she attained the position of Principal).  She now owns and operates Swanson Environmental Strategies out of Calgary and Fernie. Stella’s experience spans work for a wide range of industries as well as federal, provincial and territorial governments, First Nations, and NGOs.   She has worked on all types of ecosystems, from small saline lakes on the prairies to subarctic watersheds and marine systems off both the east and west coasts of Canada.   Stella’s work in ecological risk assessment has included large, landscape-scale assessments in environments such as the Bay of Fundy, the Queen Charlotte Basin, and the Columbia River.  

Stella is currently Facilitator of the Elk Valley Cumulative Effects Management Framework – a multi-stakeholder initiative with the goal of producing a practical framework that support decisions related to the management of cumulative effects in the Elk River Valley of British Columbia.  Stella is also Chair of the Joint Review Panel for the Deep Geologic Disposal of Low and Intermediate Nuclear Waste.  Stella’s focus is on strategic environmental planning, public consultation and engagement, and expert review.  She is committed to the vision of collaborative decision-making based upon effective engagement of regulators, industry, community representatives, and Aboriginal groups.


Dr. Albert VenosaDr. Albert Venosa is the former Director of the Land Remediation and Pollution Control Division (LRPCD). Since 1990 he has been a Senior Research Scientist and Program Manager, Oil Spill Research Program of the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) and of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). He has also been a researcher with the Office of Research Development (ORD). In 1989 he was a Team Leader on the Alaska Oil Spill Bioremediation Project involved with assessing effectiveness of nutrient formulations in the field.

Dr. Venosa’s research interests and expertise includes the development of protocols for testing the effectiveness of commercial bioremediation products for biodegrading crude oil or refined products in seawater, freshwater, beach sediments, wetlands, and soils, the development of improved scientific and practical understanding of the mechanisms of biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons, especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and the development of strategies for treating spills of biofuels (various blends of biodiesel and ethanol/gasoline) and converting waste to energy.