About Us

Alan Emery BSc, MSc, PhD

Alan was born in Trinidad in the West Indies of Canadian parents in 1939. He and his family moved back to Ontario, Canada where Alan spent most of his young formative years in small towns on the north shore of Lake Superior. He attended the University of Toronto, McGill University, Cornell University and the University of Miami in Florida, completing his PhD in 1968. His scientific specialty is marine biology. He pioneered in direct observation underwater at night on coral reefs and in fresh water. He was among the first to dive under the ice in the Arctic. He has led expeditions to the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. He has been a research scientist with the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario, professor at the University of Toronto, Curator and Sciences Coordinator at the Royal Ontario Museum, President of the Canadian Museum of Nature, one of Canada’s four national museums, and has been the governor, president, or director of many scientific organizations. He has received numerous awards for his work.

Throughout his research career he has been interested in communicating with the public and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television interviews and has been the subject of, technical advisor for, or written over 150 television shows for CTV, Discovery, and the CBC.

Large research museums have literally millions of specimens spanning billions of geological years of earth’s history both geological and biological. Preserving this immense heritage, and discovering and sharing the knowledge and understanding hidden in these treasures so that the community can make informed decisions about themselves and their future, is the main mission of these types of museums. At the Canadian Museum of Nature, where he was president for 13 years, he began to integrate the complete spectrum of museum skills and responsibility into a unified programs-based guided conversation with the community. Programs ranging from research to exhibits and informal education opportunities brought the visitor into the work of the museum allowing them to present their informed opinions to politicians and industry leaders.

He has always recognized the value of indigenous knowledge and has worked with indigenous people in many of his expeditions. He established the Centre for Traditional Knowledge to encourage cooperative research using both western science and traditional knowledge of the natural world. He taught for five years at the Banff Centre emphasizing the use of traditional knowledge in environmental assessments.

After leaving the museum in 1996, he set up his own company and has continued to work on sustainable development, museum consulting, and interweaving indigenous knowledge in development projects, especially where environmental assessments are involved. Most recently he is developing his skills as a nature documentary filmmaker, photographer, and writer while living on a 100 acre property surrounded by temperate field, forest, and swamp.

He has published nearly 100 scientific, technical, and popular articles and books spanning subjects from marine biology to the management of academic organizations.

KIVU Nature Inc. was established in 1997. At the time I started it to find a way to do great things with my hobbies and pay for them. The name evokes the major lake in Rwanda and indigenous peoples and captures the idea of Knowledge, Imagery, Vision, and Understanding in the acronym as the means by which the ideal of carrying out projects that sing the praises of environmental responsibility and sustainability. Part of the emphasis is on the relationship of people to nature and acknowledges the power of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples.

Most recently he has established KIVU Films as a division of his company KIVU Nature Inc. This is a new venture based on years of related and direct experience. The purpose of this division is to produce documentaries with a special emphasis on celebrating the natural world and exploring our human impact on it. His extensive experience in television documentaries as a subject specialist, technical advisor, and script writer combined with his international experience as a researcher specializing in marine biology in remote locations, his work with indigenous peoples, his visionary work as a leader of one of the national museums in Ottawa Canada, and his work in sustainable policy development gives him a unique ability to undertake documentary projects. His use of both photography and films in his research has made the learning curve for producing independent documentaries much less steep that it would otherwise have been.

11 thoughts on “About Us

    • Fun concept. Although it seems like special relativity can’t handle a fourth spatial dimension, quantum mechanics can handle up to 11 spatial dimensions. So who knows, maybe an unfurled fourth dimension is possible. But we would not be able to see it unless an object from it poked into our three D space in a very particular way. Thanks for the comment!

  1. Symbionts…Wow! Is this the book that you drafted so many years ago in another lifetime? If so I do recall some of the storyline. Congrats on getting it published.
    Look forward to reading it soon. Namaste

  2. this is from Centre for IPR studies, NUALS, Kochi Kerala INDIA.. can we get your contact number and address for future reference

  3. Dear Dr. Emery,

    Loved reading your short article on Fijian tapa. I have a very long, 12×4 foot piece that was made in the late 1950s. This piece is staring to separate in one or two places. Do you know how I can fix it without ruining the ink?

    • Hello Inny, I am not certain I know how to do that, but my guess is that because the ink is primarily made directly from carbon in the older manufacture, it is unlikely to run. Another trick is to heat the cloth in the torn area to “set” the ink. Use a warm iron without steam. If in the length of the material there is an inconspicuous area to try the heat trick first and then dampen that area as a test to see if the ink runs. My guess is it will not run, so you can work on repairing the cloth after the test.

  4. Alan:
    Enjoyed your presentation to the Foresight Group in Ottawa a few weeks back.
    I did not feel we reciprocated as expected due to time constraints or a misunderstanding about the length of time we were expected to budget. I was have also been feeling guilty about suggesting you com back in October when I am already committed out of town for a couple of weeks making it highly unlikely that our paths may not cross. I was also the person who asked about the efficacy of the modelling of greater exposures from flooding on clouds and rainfall. I appreciate your answers to that very complex issue. Other than intellectual curiosity, my interests are two fold, so let me give you that feedback now:
    1) A way to strengthen the economy of South Sudan is to irrigate the Breadbasket of Africa, between the Niles prior to their joining. Doing so would adversely impact not just surface water but also the aquifers that currently supply both Egypt and Lebanon. Yet, with improved efficiencies in desalination, opportunities might be created to at least delay overheating in those parts of Africa but also facilitate retention in the Bread Basket to expand African food supplies. Impacted too will be the evaporation and the flow of the clouds from the newly irrigated area over the rest of Africa and into India. So your response about different impacts from different cloud formations needs clarifying, at least in that instance.
    2) Similarly the headwaters for the Mississippi flow under the Palliser Triangle. There is also an area west of Wood Mountain, perhaps the Cypress Hills, that was missed by the Ice Age consequently containing rare biological material that Canada should preserve, but that will take US co-operation under extreme duress. In these brief thoughts I am stuck by how crucial the role of evaporation in forming the right kinds of clouds becomes.
    Is it possible to send a copy of your slides and can i share them with an interested college Laura Yeltz at the University of Southern Maine?
    Thanks for your presentation and honest responses to my unintended nasty questions.

    • Hello Peter,
      Thank you for this note and the questions you have raised. On the question about clouds from widespread irrigation in Africa, the most likely change would be more moisture in the air, but not necessarily any more cloud formation, because clouds usually form under contrasting temperature regimes. If the climate in general is also warming, each degree rise Celsius in temperature increases the atmospheric capacity to hold water by about 7%. Assuming the water is unlimited on the ground, once clouds do form they will hold a lot more water and hence resulting rainfall will be greater. I would comment that South Sudan is just on the edge of the Hadley cell updraft which normally does result in warm wet air rising into cool air causing clouds and rainfall back into the central tropical areas. As the global warming proceeds, the Hadley cells are widening but I am not positive if that will intensify the updrafts in the South Sudan area, or lessen them. I will try to put together a more substantial answer and post it in the future, but for now it is most likely that whether increased clouds are present or not, the increased moisture in the air will make the warming effect in the daytime and nighttime increase and the difference between day and night temperatures decline.

      I am preparing a “video” of the slide presentation and will send you the link when it is completed.

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