Acadia University today announced the appointment of Dr. Ian Spooner as the Director of Research at the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens. A long-time Acadia researcher and teacher, Dr. Spooner, will focus on strategy, planning, and communication to ensure that the Irving Centre and Botanical Gardens continue to be a leader in environmental study. 

“The Irving family has generously provided Acadia University with these incredibly beautiful and dynamic facilities for students and faculty who have an interest in studying our natural world,” says Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “We are pleased to have a long-time researcher so well-versed in environmental science take on a leadership role for the people who work and learn there, particularly our students, and help fulfil the vision the Irving family had when they established the Centre and the Gardens.”

Where Learning and Research Come Together

The K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens facilities were born out of a commitment to Acadia and are a testament to distinguished alumnus and successful businessman Kenneth Colin Irving and his wife, Harriet Irving. The Centre, which was declared by The Huffington Post as among the most beautiful buildings on a Canadian campus, is a gift from their children, James, Arthur, Jack Irving.

The Garden Room at the Centre, a meeting place for students, was inspired by Arthur’s memories of Acadia and time together with good friends. The Centre also contains state-of-the-art research laboratories, greenhouses, a conservatory, and controlled environmental facilities. It also includes a fully accessible, completely wired, 124-seat auditorium, a library and video conference centre, classrooms, lecture rooms, meeting spaces, and conference rooms.

Adjacent to the Centre, the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens occupy more than six acres and provide a captivating environment for the study of the native flora of the Acadian Forest Region.

The K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens will mark their 20th anniversary in 2022.

“We are excited and pleased to have Dr. Spooner join the team,” says Chancellor Emeritus Arthur Irving (HON ’03). “We are working to achieve a new level of recognition and to be among the very best environmental science study programs in Canada. We know this objective is based on the strength of our facilities, resources, and people. Professor Spooner will no doubt help us achieve this goal.”

A Driving Force in Environmental Study

“I am proud to be part of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens – they are an exceptional nexus of learning and research,” says Dr. Spooner. “Humans rely on the natural world and, today, the natural world depends on us. The body of work that can be accomplished in the Irving Centre facilities is exciting, and there’s never been a more pressing time to develop the environmental researchers of tomorrow.”

Dr. Spooner has been a professor and leader in Acadia’s Earth and Environmental Science Department for more than 25 years, supervising 30 master’s and 48 honours students to date. He has taught 11 different courses ranging from first-year Natural Disasters to graduate-level Quaternary Environments, and in a wide range of areas from Hydrogeology to Environmental Impact Assessment.

His primary research interest is investigating environmental change, and he conducts research in northwestern British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

He is an expert in environmental and risk assessment, groundwater and surface water contamination, and coastal erosion. Recently, he served as a consultant on the History Channel hit, The Curse of Oak Island.

Also, Dr. Spooner has served with numerous professional organizations and was recently awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Atlantic Geoscience Society and the Acadia Faculty of Pure and Applied Science Teaching Award.

One of the student nominations for that award stated: “To be taught by Dr. Ian Spooner was nothing short of a transformative experience. Often funny and insightful, Dr. Spooner will tell stories and give examples of the content we are learning. His ability to insert these real-life examples always kept his lessons grounded in reality. He didn’t just leave students with an understanding of certain topics, but a bearing on why it is important, why it is complex, and how it impacts other people. It is this broad way of thinking that you take away from Dr. Spooner’s lectures that transforms you as a person.”

Dr. Spooner’s appointment follows the retirement of Dr. David Kristie, who filled the role since 2014.

“Acadia University was fortunate to have had Dr. Kristie at the helm of the Centre for so many years. He was a tireless champion for the natural world and our Irving scholars, and supported our many researchers and community events,” says Dr. Spooner. “I am honoured to follow in his footsteps and continue the work.” Arthur Irving echoes these sentiments of gratitude, “David Kristie was a wonderful mentor to the Arthur Irving scholars, and furthermore, he enhanced every aspect of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre.”

Looking Forward

“Our location, facilities, and mandate are world-class,” Dr. Spooner adds. “My role will be to enhance the functions and impact of the Irving Centre and Gardens and mentor our Irving Scholars.

I am looking forward to collaborating closely with my colleagues here and at field stations, particularly Beaubassin, to ensure Acadia maintains its reputation as a leader in environmental study.”

In his new role, Dr. Spooner will mobilize Acadia faculty with an interest in environmental study to develop a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary strategy for the future as the Irving Centre and Gardens approach their 20th anniversary.

Media Contact

Sherri Turner
Manager, University Communications
(902) 585-1705