Student Wins Prestigious Scholarship

June 15, 2012 - News Release

A University of Guelph student is among four Canadians to receive a 2012 Mackenzie King Memorial Travel Scholarship. David Lawless, who graduated this week with an ecology degree, will use his $11,000 award for studies at Oxford University.

Lawless was among more than 100 applicants for the scholarships, named for William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s 10th prime minister. The awards are open to students in international relations, law, history, politics and economics. Each university may nominate only two students.

In the fall, Lawless will begin a master’s program in biodiversity conservation and management, combining natural sciences and international relations.

“I am truly honoured to have been awarded this scholarship and feel a great sense of gratitude for being afforded this opportunity to study at Oxford,” he said.

“I feel so fortunate to have the chance to work with so many incredible people with different interests and amazing intellectual qualities. I’m extremely excited to enter this new chapter of my life.”

Lawless hopes to apply science in policy to protect our environment. “Too often there is a tremendous gap between conservation science and environmental governance. It is not only essential to study the scientific mechanisms that drive environmental problems but also crucial that scientists are able to communicate their insights successfully to policy-makers.”

This week Lawless also received the College of Biological Science’s Gold Medal — the college’s top convocation award — and the Monroe Landon Integrative Biology Prize for Ecology.

On campus, he has been involved with Net Impact, an organization promoting environmental sustainability in business, and the CBS student council.

In 2011 he was named among Canada’s top 25 environmentalists under 25 by The Starfish, a volunteer-based environmental organization.

He has worked at four national parks, including as an ecosystem technician at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island and as an interpreter at Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park. A rap video he filmed in the latter park won top prize in the 2010 Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s video contest. His video was also selected as a juried finalist at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.

During his first year at U of G, Lawless was one of three Canadians selected to attend the Road to Davos Conference, an international gathering of young leaders and activists. He attended the United Nations Environment Day Summit in New York and the International Forum on Climate Finance in Shanghai, China in 2010, and the UN World Climate Conference in Geneva in 2009. In 2008, he was named a “Global Changemaker” by the British Council.

He plans to work in a developing country.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338,; or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982,

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1