Changing STEM TO STEAM: ONC farewells Kim Juniper
ONC Chief Scientist’s legacy includes promotion of “two-eyed seeing” ocean monitoring
June 10, 2024

It was fitting, in a way, that one of the world’s leading oceanographers, Kim Juniper, passed away on 7 June 2024 during Ocean Week Canada: a time in our annual calendar when we raise awareness about the importance of connecting to and protecting the ocean.

Dr. S. Kim Juniper was Ocean Network Canada’s Chief Scientist, and a driving force behind the transformation of ocean science that ONC will continue to advance on the world stage that he helped us join.

His titles were many: Professor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and the Department of Biology at the University of Victoria, holder of the British Columbia Leadership Chair in Ocean Ecosystems and Global Change since 2006, and expert consultant to the International Seabed Authority. In his role as ONC Chief Scientist, he co-developed a bold Strategic Plan that will serve the organization through the entire UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

Juniper was one of the leading contributors to the original design of the NEPTUNE underwater cabled observatory, and helped build an expert science team that is advancing ocean observing through research partnerships within Canada and around the world. Under his leadership, scientific monitoring has expanded in step with the expansion of ONC’s observatories on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic coasts of Canada. Most recently he was instrumental in establishing the linkages with our Spanish partners that led to the January 2024 launch of ONC’s Antarctic Ocean observatory.

Perhaps the most personal part of Juniper’s legacy is that he changed the way we view and approach ocean science. Comprehensive ocean monitoring involves multiple perspectives as well as scientific measurements, and under his leadership ONC built programs that continue to bring the arts into the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sector — changing STEM to STEAM; ONC’s Artist-in-Residence Program being an example. Most recently, Juniper played a key national and international role in advancing respectful Indigenous partnerships which use “two-eyed seeing” to bring together Indigenous knowledge systems and ocean science.

“ONC is committed to empowering Indigenous and coastal community leadership through partnerships that support community-led ocean observatories on all three coasts of Canada, and by sharing multiple ways of knowing in the development and delivery of ocean science education and outreach.” Kim Juniper.

Kim Juniper was a mentor to countless students and colleagues, a friend, and an inspirational leader whose vision has changed the way ONC and the scientific community approach ocean science. We are proud to carry his legacy forward.

A deeper dive into Kim Juniper’s scientific leadership contribution

Kim Juniper authored more than 130 peer-reviewed publications on the microbiology, biogeochemistry and ecology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and low oxygen and other marine habitats. He has contributed scientific leadership and advisory roles to national and international initiatives including, most recently, the Canadian Healthy Oceans research network (CHONe), the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO), OceanObs’19 and OceanObs Next, the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), and the European Marine water Column and Seafloor Observatory (EMSO-ERIC). He served as an advisor to the International Seabed Authority during the development of regulations for the exploration and extraction of seabed mineral resources in areas beyond national jurisdictions. This advisory role led him to focus on bio-prospecting methods for the assessment of the microbial genetic resources associated with seafloor massive sulphide deposits.

His interest in the ecology of marine microbes has taken his lab in many directions over the course of his career, from beginnings uncovering gastropod-microbial interactions in New Zealand intertidal mudflats, to studying chemosynthesis-based food webs and microbe-mineral interactions at deep-sea hydrothermal vents, not to mention forays into cold seep, sea ice, fjord and seabed sediment ecosystems. For the past decade the lab’s research has focussed on microbial nitrogen cycle processes in low oxygen habitats, on the role of protists in hydrothermal vent ecosystems, and on strain-level population characteristics of bacteria symbionts of hydrothermal vent tubeworms. The low-oxygen and nitrogen cycle work is supported by his British Columbia Research Chair in Ocean Ecosystems and Global Change that resulted in a new area of research that explained the contribution of the zooplankton gut microbiome to nutrient cycling in the upper ocean.

Juniper has contributed to the leadership of a number of Canadian marine research networks including the Canadian mid-ocean ridge research network (CanRidge; 1993-1996), Canada’s contribution to the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS; 1995-1999), the NEPTUNE Canada cabled observatory network (2000-2011), the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (2008-present), and Ocean Networks Canada (2011-present). At the international level, he has contributed to understanding the environmental impact of future deep-sea mining, and current discussions about the sustainable use of the genetic resources of the deep sea.

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