CAST AND FILM CREW
PROF. JEAN-BERNARD CARON
PROFESSOR & TEAM LEADER
Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron is the Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Caron studied the problematic animal Banffia constricta from the Burgess Shale for his Diplôme d’Études Approfondies (M.Sc. equivalent) in Palaeontology, Sedimentology and Chronology from the University Claude-Bernard in Lyon, France, before completing his doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto in 2004 on the taphonomy and community palaeoecology of the Burgess Shale.
Dr. Caron’s research lab primarily focuses on fossilization processes, ecology, phylogeny, and diversity of Burgess Shale animals. Field-based research is an important aspect of his work and Dr. Caron leads regular fieldwork activities to the Canadian Rockies primarily to study how the Burgess Shale biota changed through space and time in response to ecological, evolutionary and environmental factors.
Andrew Gregg has been making documentaries since 1986. Andrew got his start in the Yukon with NNBY’s flagship program Nedaa. Following that – and after a six-year stint with the CBC in Toronto – he became an independent documentary film maker, traveling the world gathering stories for CBC, CTV, National Geographic, Discovery, History Television and more. In 2017 he released three films – “The Tea Explorer” (Documentary Channel), “Secrets from the Ice” (The Nature of Things) and most recently, “Skinhead” (CBC Docs POV) all with longtime production partner Gordon Henderson at 90th Parallel Productions in Toronto. Gregg has won several awards but the one he likes the best was the Grand Prize at Banff Mountainfilm for “The Last Nomads,” the story of a Canadian linguist’s attempts to save a dying language in the jungles of Borneo. To date Andrew has directed, produced and written more than 40 documentary films.
Emmy nominated for 'Outstanding Cinematography in a Documentary' - Michael Grippo is a Toronto-based Director of Photography of 2 Emmy Award winning films (Sex Slaves and Crimes of Honour). A trusted, international professional with extensive experience filming around the globe. He has a high level of expertise in every type of situation. He is trilingual in French, Italian and English and has recorded over 150 network documentaries on 5 continents.
As a multiple award winning cinematographer, Michael is accustomed to extensive travel under extreme conditions, including 10 years in the war zones of Croatia, Sarajevo, Somalia, Haiti, and Iraq.
Michael has been working in the film and television industry since 1989 on an impressive variety media productions. His credits include working with such organizations as CBC's 'Nature of Things', PBS, CBS, TSN, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Warner Brothers and National Geographic.
Awards: 1994 Emmy Award “CBS Olympics” New York Film Critics, Houston Film Festival, Yorktown Film Festival, Telluride Film Festestival and the Banff Mountain Festival.
His Special Skills include: Canadian & UK Passports, Carnet Holder, Drone-op, and vast experience with hidden cameras. Michael is a certified SCUBA diver and has underwater Still & Video photography skills. Michael has worked extensively internationally, for many years.
DR. BRIGITTE SHOENEMANN
UNIVERSITY OF COLOGNE
University of Bonn - Steinmann Institute
for Geology, Mineralogy and Palaeontology
External Research Associate (Prof. Rust)
PD Dr. Brigitte Schoenemann
University of Cologne
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Institute of Biology Education
Her Current Research:
Evolution of visual systems, analysis of fossilised eyes as based on their preserved morphology, (simple and compound), their physical capacities, such as visual acuity, sensitivity, fields of view etc., and in some groups eye-reduction and blindness. The analysis, in particular of the internal sensory structures, and thus an attempt to understand the functions of these eyes, by means of x-ray tomography, synchrotron radiation etc., are the main topics of her present studies.
Since 2013 to present time - Substitutional professorship for Zoology at the University of Cologne
In 2013 lecturer: Habilitation in Zoology, University of Cologne
Previously (2007-2013) Lecturer at the Institute of Biology Education, University of Cologne
INVERTEBRATE PALAEONTOLOGY COLLECTIONS TECHNICIAN - ROM
ROM Invertebrate Palaeontology Collections Technician
Hon.B.Sc., Biological and Physical/Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto
M.Sc., Earth Sciences, University of Toronto
Maryam Akrami manages the Invertebrate Palaeontology Collections at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada. After completing her M.Sc. in Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto (with a focus on Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoceanography, and Invertebrate Palaeontology), she acquired certificates in Project Management and Records Management from the university's School of Continuing Studies. Maryam has been fascinated by the natural world and its history since a very young age. She is very interested in invertebrate fossils and fieldwork and has participated in ROM Invertebrate Palaeontology's last few Burgess Shale Expeditions in the Canadian Rockies. Maryam considers palaeontological collections as nature’s libraries and strongly believes in their preservation for the benefit of current as well as future generations.
PALEO SCIENTIST - MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY
Prof. Duncan McIlroy D. Phil. in Palaeontology
Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University 1995
The fieldwork component of his thesis included time in Fortune Cove and Portugal Cove South in Newfoundland studying the tracks, trails and body fossils in Ediacaran and Cambrian aged rocks. Duncan brought his experience in biology, sedimentology, biogeochemistry and biomechanics to assess the impact that the earliest animals had on sediment texture and the ecology of the seafloor at the critical time in the evolution of animal life on earth known as the Cambrian Explosion. His thesis led to the proposal of a positive feedback loop between disturbance of the seafloor by sediment ingesting animals and increased microbial productivity that has the potential to simultaneously provide the fuel to the Cambrian Explosion, and explain some of the key aspects of the changes in the organism-sediment interactions across the Ediacaran to Cambrian Boundary.
Duncan was drawn back to Newfoundland by its world class Ediacaran and Cambrian palaeontology and Prof. McIlroy has maintained a strong linkage with Oxford University, mainly focused on the Ediacaran to Cambrian transition. The most important work includes documentation of the earliest evidence for animal movement and the earliest reliable evidence for a fossil animal. The group has been integral to the successful nomination of Mistaken Point as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Duncan leads a research group focused on the Ediacaran of Newfoundland from a range of perspectives including palaeobiology, ecology, evolution, biogeochemistry and micropalaeontology Prof. McIlroy is also Director of Memorial University’s Bonne Bay Marine Station and Aquarium in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland.
PROF. DAVID RIVAL
PROFESSOR OF ENGINEERING
After completing his BSc and MSc in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s Universty, Dr. Rival left for Germany to undertake a PhD in experimental aerodynamics at the Technische Universitaet Darmstadt. As part of a larger program studying nature-inspired fluid mechanics Dr. Rival studied energy extraction in dragonfly flight, for which he received the Hugo Denkmeier prize from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). During this period Dr. Rival was a key member of a NATO task group on Micro Aerial Vehicle Aerodynamics for which the team also received the 2011 NATO RTO Scientific Achievement Award. After completing his PhD, Dr. Rival spent a year as a postdoctoral associate at MIT examining rapid underwater manoeuvers inspired by nature relevant to the propulsion of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. He then spent four years on faculty at the University of Calgary before returning to Queen’s in July 2014.
Dr. Rival’s lab focuses on experimental fluid dynamics, including the development of novel post-processing techniques for Eulerian and Lagrangian data. This data, in turn, is used to extract features such as entrainment, pressure, unsteady forces, coherent structures, and ultimately low-order models of complex systems. New avenues into coupling sparse measurements with computations (i.e. data assimilation) are also being pursued. Experiments are conducted both in controlled lab environments (see the Facilities section) as well as in the field (both in vivo and at large environmental scales).
To further exemplify the diversity of scales, some of the current research topics include the study of evolutionary convergence of marine and aerial locomotion of fish, birds, insects, mammals and even extinct species such as Anomalocarids. These studies provide engineers insight into the development and implementation of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) as well as the design and operation of propellers, rotors and even water turbines in highly complex environments.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
DEPT. OF ECOLOGY & EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
Cédric Aria, born in Mulhouse, Alsace, France.
In 2011, he received the young writer Karl Bréheret award from the Mediterranean Writers for his collection 'The Song of Birth',
Dr. Cédric Area is currently a postdoctorate fellow at Nanjing Institute of Palaeontology and Geology in Nanjing, China
Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Toronto (Canada)
M.Sc. in Palaeontology, Palaeobiology and Phylogeny
University of Montpellier II (France)
B.Sc. in Biology and Earth Sciences
University of Strasbourg I (France)
Dr Aria in his short career has been involved in research and the teaching of the following subject matter, Macroevolution, palaeobiology, Body plan evolution and patterning, Heterochrony and evolutionary developmental biology, Arthropod systematics and evolution, Quantitative palaeontology, Quality of the fossil records, Concepts of evolutionary biology and Epistemology.
He has interned, studied, received grants for academic and field work around the world in such places as Nanjing, Toronto, Berlin, Panama, Paris, Arizona and Montpelier, France. He has been part of the Burgess Field expeditions since 2012 and this is his fourth field expedition to this site. He has also prepared many academic research papers and presentations in his field and has been published in major newspapers and magazines such as The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Live Science and Smithsonian Magazine.
PROF. MAYDIANNE ANDRADE
HOST & NARRATOR
Maydianne Andrade is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus and the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. With a BSc from Simon Fraser University, an MSc from the University of Toronto Mississauga and a PhD in Neurobiology & Behavior from Cornell University, Andrade’s research uses cannibalistic black widow spiders as models for understanding how selection shapes mating behaviours, life history traits, and how these processes can lead to species diversification and invasiveness.
Andrade is adept at translating her research for a broader audience, with her work on black widows frequently featured in the popular press, or as the subject of her lab’s science outreach activities. Past work includes a feature on her work on NOVA ScienceNOW, numerous interviews over the years on CBC radio’s ‘Quirks and Quarks’, and her serving as the ‘spider expert’ in ‘The Great Wild Indoors’, an earlier episode of The Nature of Things.
Deborah Parks has spent the last 30 years working with internationally renowned writers and directors whose films have garnered many awards including two Emmys. She began her career in cinematography and was the first woman to win the Canadian Society of Cinematographers award for 'Best Photography in a documentary' for her film “Shahira”. She also worked at Telefilm Canada as a Film Analyst both within the Feature Film and Television Fund.
As a television Producer Deborah is currently working with first time Director Aisha Jamal on the Documentary "A Kandahar Away", for the Documentary Channel, scheduled to be broadcast in Fall of 2019. In 2016 she produced two independent Programs for CBC’s First Hand, collaborating with Shelley Saywell on “The War At Home” (2017 nominee for CSA Donald Britain Award and Best Documentary Writing Award) and John Kastner ‘s “Not Criminally Responsible: Wedding Secrets”. In 2015 working again with Saywell she produced “Lowdown Tracks”, which won Best Canadian Audience Award at the Hot Docs Film Festival. In 2014 she co-produced with the NFB and John Kastner, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind, which won the Hot Docs 'Best Canadian Feature Film Award'.
Geoff Matheson is a Gemini nominated Editor and master storyteller who has spent the last 35 years working with award winning Canadian Directors. At 90th Parallel Productions for 19 years, Geoff worked with Director Andrew Gregg on over 10 films, most recently “Skin Head” CBC, (US International Film and Video Festival, 2018 winner), “Secrets From the Ice” CBC, (Chicago International Television Award, 2018 winner) and “The Tea Explorer” Doc Channel, (New York Film & TV Festival, 2017 winner).
Bruce Fowler is a music composer and sound designer with decades of experience working on a broad range of genres, including orchestral, electronica, solo piano and rock - for film and television. He is highly regarded throughout the industry as being a true composer and collaboration is the heart of his work. His team of musicians and audio experts bring the same level of skill and passion to every project. He has composed music for numerous award winning films and television series, including John Kastner’s, “Not Criminally Responsible” (Hot Docs 2013) and “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” (Best Canadian Feature Doc. 2014), “Life With Murder” (International Emmy 2011, Hot Docs 2010, Donald Britain Award). His clients include CTV, CBC, Global, the NFB, PBS, TSN and Discovery Channel in addition to documentary filmmakers such as: Gordon Henderson, Andrew Gregg, Cynthia Banks, Karen Pinker and Charles Officer.
Lars Fields began teaching himself how to do 3D animation shortly after graduating from Emory University (Atlanta) with a degree in anthropology. He soon began to specialize in scientific visualization, creating animations for many science, nature and historical documentaries on a myriad of subjects, including Mayan archaeology, extra solar planets, future technologies, honeybee colony collapse disorder, space travel, and how cancer drugs based on monoclonal antibodies work, as well as title sequences for shows like Mythbusters.
In 2005 he began concentrating on using 3D animation to recreate extinct lifeforms, most especially from the Cambrian Era, working with natural history museums such as The Field Museum in Chicago, the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg, the Melbourne Museum, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
For the past 9 years he has been working extensively with Professor Jean-Bernard Caron and his associates at the Royal Ontario Museum to reconstruct, as accurately as possible, the extinct Cambrian ecologies preserved in the remarkable Burgess Shale formation in British Columbia.
Marianne Collins is an illustrator and consultant to Museums, Visitor Centres and Publishers. She collaborates with research scientists to reconstruct newly described species and portray never seen prehistoric life.
Marianne is best known on the world stage for her role in introducing the world to the enigmatic creatures of the Burgess Shale fossil site. The late Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University, engaged her specifically to illustrate his 1989 book, "Wonderful Life". The worldwide best seller was the 1991 winner of The Aventis Prize for Science Books for the author, and a 1990 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The volume brought the 500 million year old Cambrian creatures to an international audience. Marianne’s illustrations from the book were displayed at the Grand Palais, in Paris, France at a special exhibition celebrating the bicentennial of the Louvre and its associated museums. The exhibition, documenting the history of the collaboration of Art working with Science, brought together many famous classical works of scientific illustration from all over the world. In 1996 she was included in the Who’s Who of Canadian Women, a testament to outstanding dedication to the service of science through her art.
She continues to bring previously unknown creatures to life through her research affiliations and collaboration on scientific publications with the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and on the ROM/Parks Canada’s collaborative Virtual Museum of the Burgess Shale.
PROF. ROBERT GAINES
PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY - POMONA COLLEGE
Edwin F. and Martha Hahn Professor of Geology - Pomona College, Claremont California, USA
Education: Ph.D. - University of California, Riverside, Master of Science - University of Cincinnati
Bachelor of Science College of William and Mary.
In what has been hailed as the world’s most important fossil discovery in decades, Robert Gaines was a member of the team that discovered a stunning new Burgess Shale fossil site in Canada’s Kootenay National Park in 2014.
His recent research at Burgess Shale sites has also offered a likely solution to one of biology’s greatest riddles, the preservation of soft-tissue fossils from the Cambrian Explosion, the flowering of complex life on Earth during the Late Neoproterozoic and Cambrian Periods some 570 to 500 million years ago. His hypothesis, that a combination of calcium carbonate deposits and lower levels of oxygen and sulfur in the Cambrian seas prevented the degradation of the fossils by microbes, was validated by a startlingly consistent pattern in the geochemical data he collected from around the world.
He is also more broadly interested in microbial-mineral interactions as a link between the geosphere and the biosphere. He works on ancient sedimentary rocks in South China, British Columbia and the American Great Basin.
Robert Nicholls grew up in Gloucestershire, England, and now resides in Bristol with his wife and daughter. Bob began drawing prehistoric animals before he was old enough to attend school and at a very young age decided to pursue a career in paleoart. His passion for wildlife, paleontology and art inspired him throughout university at which he gained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Visual Communication at the University of Central England in 1997 (Thesis title: Image of a Dinosaur). He stayed on at UCE to gain a Post Graduate Diploma in Visual Communication in 1998 followed by a Master of Arts in the same subject in 1999 (Thesis title: Dinosaurs from the Inside Out)
In 1999 Nicholls founded his own company Paleocreations, currently based in Bristol in the UK. Paleocreations specialises in creating anatomically accurate 2D and 3D reconstructions of prehistoric animals, plants, and environments. Animals are reconstructed from the inside out, from skeletal structures, soft part anatomy, and external skin, fur and feathers, for both temporary and permanent display. Bob's works are currently displayed in nearly 50 museums, institutions and aquariums across Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America, including the London Natural History Museum, GeoCenter Møns Klint, National Museum Wales, University of Cambridge, Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery and MuSe - Museo delle Scienze. He has been commissioned to create artwork for over 40 books on natural history. He has also produced work for several broadcasting companies including the BBC, Icon Films, and National Geographic. As an active member of the palaeontological world. Bob is often interviewed and written about online. He has also contributed to a number of scientific papers.
DEPUTY HEAD OF BIOLOGY
Suzanne Dufour is an Associate Professor and Deputy Head (Undergraduate) in the Department of Biology at Memorial University. Growing up in coastal New Brunswick, she developed a passion for marine life and spent many hours exploring the coastlines near her home. She obtained a BSc and MSc in biology from l’Université de Moncton, studying feeding adaptations in a diversity of marine bivalves, including mussels, scallops, oysters and clams. Her research examined how fine-scale anatomical features are related to the different ways that these animals capture and process food particles suspended in seawater.
Suzanne then pursued a PhD at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, where she studied chemosymbiosis and was involved in two oceanographic expeditions.
After her PhD, Suzanne returned to Canada as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at l’Université du Québec à Rimouski and McGill University. She studied animal-sediment interactions using novel techniques such as CT-scanning.
Suzanne joined the Department of Biology at Memorial University in 2009. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in invertebrate zoology and marine biology, including field courses at Memorial University’s Bonne Bay Marine Station, located in Gros Morne National Park.