Lives That Improved Life | Denis Lynn

The inaugural Lynn Medal in Zoology to be awarded at spring convocation for the College of Biological Science (CBS) this year is named for Denis Lynn, a University of Guelph professor emeritus and grad who died in June 2018. Described by one former colleague as “an academic who never grew old,” Lynn was killed after being hit by a rogue wave while collecting mussels on Calvert Island in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Sound. He was 71.

After studies in marine biology at U of G in 1969, he completed his PhD at the University of Toronto. He returned to the University’s former Department of Zoology in 1977. In 2011, he became an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia.

During his 32-year career, Lynn studied ciliates, or single-celled organisms that he called his “favourite wee beasties.”

The annual Lynn Medal, designed by Ian Smith, illustrator and CBS printing facility manager, will go to the top graduating student in the zoology major. Prof. Ryan Gregory, chair of the Department of Integrative Biology, recalls Lynn’s thoroughness as a member of his PhD defence committee at U of G. “He was the consummate professor: he cared about both research and teaching,” says Gregory.

Michaela Strueder-Kypke, coordinator of advanced light microscopy in U of G’s Advanced Analysis Centre, worked with Lynn as a post-doc after arriving from Germany. In 1991, she had sent her master’s thesis to several international experts; Lynn was the only one to reply, although he half-apologized for being unable to read German.

“He had not only looked at it, he actually tried to read it,” says Strueder-Kypke, who first met Lynn at a conference in 1993. “That was Denis. He was always curious, keen. He gave everyone the same respect.”