Young, C. Mary

Degree conferred: Doctor of Science (D.Sc.)

Orator: Patterson, Stephen E.


ENCAENIA, MAY, 2016
C. MARY YOUNG
to be Doctor of Science

Dr. C. Mary Young has been a familiar face on the UNB campus for decades - not as a student or professor, but rather as an independent scholar and volunteer. She is a biologist by training, an environmentalist by conviction, and a scholar who has made an outstanding contribution to UNB and, indeed, our province.

Mary came to UNB in the 1960s as the wife of Professor Murray Young (who taught History here for many years). At the time of their marriage, Mary was already on her way to a scholarly career in biology as a researcher at the world-renowned London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases. With an exceptional academic record from British schools and a doctorate from the University of London, she was publishing and presenting scholarly papers on the use of insecticides in curbing the spread of diseases such as malaria. As a young wife and mother in Canada, she put her scholarly pursuits on hold. But, luckily for UNB, her scientific curiosity eventually led her to the Department of Biology, where she began volunteering in its botanical museum, the Connell Herbarium.

It is hard to overestimate her contribution to the Herbarium, the oldest of its kind in Canada, and the repository of collections begun years ago by luminaries of the University like Loring Woart Bailey. Here, she helped curate, map, and catalogue the plant collections, and her work became not only a labour of love but also the basis for a monumental research project of her own. She began a study of plant observation and collecting in New Brunswick, at first publishing biographical entries in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, and then, ultimately, a magnificent magnum opus, Nature's Bounty: Four Centuries of Plant Exploration in New Brunswick, published last year. It is a remarkable book, elegantly written and strikingly illustrated with Dr. Young's own botanical sketches, that documents nearly 400 years of botanical exploration in the province while placing the details in the larger culture of scientific inquiry. As a work in both history and science, it is a book about ideas, reflecting both a reverence for nature and a respect for the past. Equally, it is a testament to the spirit and dedication of an independent researcher who, unpaid and without institutional support, has persevered in her chosen field.

Mary Young's selfless devotion to knowledge is matched by her exceptional service to the environmental movement. With her interest in rare plant species and the natural environment, she helped found the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, and served it for several years as a leader. By promoting natural heritage preservation, she convinced both government and industry to identify and protect environmentally sensitive areas in the province. Without the active leadership of people like Mary Young, New Brunswick would not have held its own in the burgeoning environmental movement of the last 30 years.

Talented and generous volunteers like Mary Young are rare. Today, we thank her and formally acknowledge the role she has played for many years as a valued member of the UNB community. Insignissme praeses ...

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