Chris Somers: Father's influence led to career in biology

Posted: September 11, 2013 1:30 p.m.

Dr. Chris Somers, a Canada Research Chair in Genes and the Environment fishing with his four-year-old son Philipp on Jumbo Lake, SK.
Dr. Chris Somers, a Canada Research Chair in Genes and the Environment fishing with his four-year-old son Philipp on Jumbo Lake, SK. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Somers

Dr. Christopher Somers, a biology professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Regina, is a Canada Research Chair in Genes and the Environment. Through his research, Somers examines interactions between humans and wildlife, and the nature and frequency of genetic mutations that can be passed on from one generation to the next. By relating these mutations to the animals' exposure to pollution, Somers' work supports wildlife conservation and habitat protection while helping scientists better understand the risks of genetic mutation in humans.

“Being a Canada Research Chair is a tremendous honor. It means that I am recognized by my peers as a top calibre researcher in Canada. It’s a great feeling to have my passion for biology and years of hard work recognized,” says Somers.

Somers grew up in Toronto where his father was a police officer.

“Several times while he was on patrol he would bring home animals that needed help. I remember one time waking up and finding a large Indigo snake in the bathtub. The police had removed it from an apartment and it had nowhere to go. My dad decided to try and find a home for it rather than have it killed. His influence, and my interest in fishing, were the driving forces behind my biology career. I am married to a biologist and have two children – and I find myself often picking up critters and showing them to my boys.”

Somers earned degrees at York, Brock, and McMaster Universities in Ontario before joining the University of Regina in 2004 as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) post-doctoral fellow.

“The University of Regina is small enough to facilitate synergy among researchers in different areas, but big enough to attract top-level research grants and house state-of-the-art infrastructure. It is also one of only two universities in Saskatchewan, which makes it special for the province,” he says.

The other Canada Research Chairs at the University of Regina are professors Christine Chan, Shadia Drury, Gordon Huang, Peter Leavitt, Gregory Marchildon, Charity Marsh, Joseph Piwowar, Christopher Yost and Sandra Zilles.