Trained at Université Laval (B.Sc. 1976; M.Sc. 1979) and McGill University (Ph.D. 1983), a NATO postdoctoral fellow (Plymouth, UK 1984-1985) and Professor at Université Laval since 1989, Louis Fortier studies zooplankton and marine fish population dynamics. In 2001, he created Québec-Océan, a multi-institution research centre that coordinates the efforts of oceanographers based in Quebec’s universities and government laboratories. He holds the Canada Research Chair on the response of Arctic marine ecosystems to climate warming. He sits on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada since 2005.
An indefatigable promoter of a multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial approach to the ecosystem-level concerns raised by the warming of the Arctic, Louis Fortier has led the Canadian participation to several international programs such as the Saroma-Resolute Study (SARES) with Japan and the Northeast Water Polynya Study (NEW) with Germany. Since 1997, he spearheaded the NOW (International North Water Polynya Study) and CASES (Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study) NSERC Research Networks, two highly successful research endeavors of international magnitude on the response of the Arctic Ocean to global climate change. Louis Fortier is also heading the pan-Canadian consortium of Arctic specialists that received in 2002 a $27.5M grant from the International Joint Venture Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation to retrofit the Amundsen, Canada’s dedicated research icebreaker. Equipped with state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation and developing 14000 HP, the 100-m long icebreaker was inaugurated in 2003. Hosted by Université Laval and managed by the Canadian Coast Guard, this national infrastructure has enabled Canada to rebuild its leadership in the international study of its Arctic seas and territories.
Under Fortier’s leadership, Canada’s best Arctic specialists in the natural, social and health sciences have founded ArcticNet which aims to anticipate the impacts of climate warming and modernization in the Arctic on the health and economy of northern communities and on the economy of Canada in general. The Network contributes to the formulation of policies and adaptation strategies in a diverse sectors including for example marine and terrestrial ecosystem changes in the Arctic, the vulnerability of northern populations to catastrophic events, the adaptation of human health systems, the preservation of key animal species; the opening of the Northwest Passage to traffic, and Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
Appointed ‘Scientist of Year’ in 2004 by Radio-Canada and ‘Scientific Personality 2005’ by La Presse and Radio-Canada, Mr. Fortier received the Gloire de l’Escolle Medal of the Alumni Association of Université Laval in 2006. In 2007, he is named Officer of the Order of Canada and is awarded an Honorary Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba. Appointed Officier de l’Ordre National du Québec in 2008, he is also named ‘Scientific Personality 2008’ by Le Soleil and Radio-Canada. In 2009, he receives the Stefansson Medal of the Explorers Club and, in 2010, the Quebec Prix Armand-Frappier for Excellence in Research and Research Development. He receives in 2011 the Governor General Northern Medal, and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in Northern Research in 2012, as well as the Timothy R. Parsons Award for excellence in Ocean Sciences. In 2015, Mr. Fortier is awarded the Northern Science Award and Centenary Medal Commemorating IPY1882-1883. In 2017, he received the Canadian Museum of Nature Inspiration Award, as well as the French Légion d’Honneur.