Biologist says institute chairman put him through difficult ordeal

Barb Sweet
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Wildlife biologist Ian Goudie is outraged the credentials of a man who heads the Institute for Environmental Monitoring and Research, an independent scientific-based body funded by the Department of National Defence, may not be what they seem.

CBC News in New Brunswick reported this week that an online American university that awarded Louis LaPierre a PhD in the 1980s says it was not a science degree as the University of Moncton professor has long claimed.

It was actually an education degree, the broadcaster said it was told by Walden University in Minnesota.

LaPierre, who has been a professor at the University of Moncton for 30 years and an environmental adviser to provincial and federal governments, did not comment to the CBC on the story.

Goudie said he was working on his PhD when the Institute for Environmental Monitoring and Research told Memorial University in 2002 that it was yanking funding for the study on the effects of low-level flying by NATO jets on the behaviour of harlequin ducks, a small seabird that spends most of the year in saltwater, but during summer flies inland to breed along fast-moving rivers and streams  in central Labrador.

According to the institute’s website, LaPierre is still chairman of the institute, and Goudie is  again questioning his suitability for that role.

“We got a letter out of nowhere at MUN that (the institute) had made a decision to terminate my funding. … I don’t  mind being heard on this guy after what I went through,” Goudie said Wednesday.

Goudie said because of the threat of losing funding, he went through a difficult ordeal.

“I was in the middle of a major piece of research that I put my heart and soul into, the pinnacle piece of work in my science career,” he said.

“I was five years doing this. … Every year was an uphill battle.”

Goudie and his colleagues went public about the decision and he credits the support of the Innu community with getting it reversed.

Goudie also subsequently blamed the institute for twisting his research findings.

He said the researchers found no evidence that the ducks grew accustomed to the flights.

Goudie’s research was reviewed by his PhD thesis committee members, anonymous referees and the editor of the international journal Environmental Conservation.

But the 2003 annual report of the Institute of Environmental Monitoring and Research, which funded 65 per cent of his study, said,  “... There was agreement that the study could find no measurable adverse response of breeding harlequin ducks to low-level overflights of military jet aircraft.”

A report by Radio-Canada last week first raised questions about LaPierre’s academic history. According to the report, for years LaPierre’s biography claimed he holds a PhD in ecology from the University of Maine.

The University of Maine confirmed to Radio-Canada that LaPierre does have a master’s degree in science education, but does not have a master’s degree in wildlife ecology. According to the CBC, LaPierre told Radio-Canada there was a mix-up in his academic biography. He said his professor at the University of Maine moved to Minnesota, so LaPierre followed him to do his degree.

He said the PhD was in association with the University of Maine and Walden University back in 1985. The University of Maine confirmed with Radio-Canada that there was never an agreement for co-operation with Walden University.

The University of Moncton earlier told media it was looking into the matter, but told The Telegram Wednesday it is not commenting anymore.

Organizations: CBC News, Walden University.The University of Moncton, Walden University Radio-Canada Institute for Environmental Monitoring NATO University of Maine PhD thesis committee Institute of Environmental Monitoring and Research University of Maine.The University of Maine

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Labrador, Minnesota

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