Dedication to Dr. Robert Boyd


–An NRC Perspective–

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Dr. Robert (Bob) K. Boyd is one of Canada's most respected mass spectrometrists. Over the course of his career at the National Research Council (NRC), Bob has made a number of invaluable contributions to the physical, biological and chemical sciences and has become an influential member of the Canadian research and innovation community.

Bob was born on July 19, 1938, in Peebles, Scotland. He attended St. Andrews University where he received both his B.Sc Hons degree in Chemistry and his Ph.D in Physical Chemistry. In 1962, Bob traveled to Ottawa, Ontario, where he landed his first position with the NRC as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the area of photochemistry. Unbeknownst to him, this first position would forecast his future career at the NRC.

Before that would happen, Bob would leave the NRC to gain a wealth of research and teaching experience both in Canada and abroad. Over the next 24 years, he held a number of research and professor positions in England, Wales, Canada and the USA. In 1976, Bob became a Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Guelph.

It was not until 1986, after seven years of teaching, that Bob began his long and significant career with the NRC, first as a Senior Research Officer at the Atlantic Research Laboratory (now the Institute for Marine Biosciences), in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With his already extensive experience in Analytical Chemistry, it was not long before Bob climbed the NRC ladder. Within four years, he became a Principal Research Officer.

Although Bob would stay at the Institute for Marine Biosciences for the remainder of his career, Bob remained active in the local, national and international scientific communities. He became a member of a variety of professional societies, boards and committees involving chemistry, natural sciences and chemical metrology. In 1990, he began editing for Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, before his eventual appointment as Editor-in-Chief in 1997.

I first met Bob in 1996, when he hired me for a two-year appointment as a Research Associate at the Institute for Marine Biosciences. Although he allowed me to develop and conduct my own research program, the interactions with Bob during that time were tremendously important for my future career. After I left the institute, I always stayed in contact with him and, without hesitation, I immediately accepted when Bob offered me the position of principal mass spectrometrist at the institute in 2001.

Although Bob was devoted to the applied and academic sciences, his most significant administrative role was yet to come. In 1998, he was appointed Acting Director General for the Institute for Marine Biosciences. He accepted the position on a short-term basis, knowing it would mean he would have to put a hold on his active participation in science.

During the time he spent as Director General, Bob introduced many important changes to the organizational structure of the institute. For example, he reorganized the management structure and created a Science Advisory Committee. He also established a peer review process for enhanced funding opportunities which helped the institute receive numerous grants for the renewal of research facilities. In addition, Bob played a key role in the Atlantic Initiative, an ongoing multi-phased project focused on the development of life sciences in Nova Scotia. This initiative has supported the acquisition of a significant amount of state-of-the-art equipment for the institute, including several new mass spectrometers.

In 2003, Bob was appointed Researcher Emeritus at NRC's Outstanding Achievement Awards, a title that is intended to mark the career accomplishments of retired employees. The award also expresses the appreciation of the NRC for Bob's willingness to continue to be active in the research activities of the NRC. He currently advises scientists at Ottawa's NRC Institute for National Measurement Standards.

Bob has demonstrated that dedication, creativity and hard work can lead to the highest degree of achievement. His long list of publications (vide infra) and accomplishments are a testament to his distinguished career. On a personal level, I am continuously impressed with Bob's unselfishness, motivation and willingness to help in almost any situation. I have always considered Bob a mentor as well as a close personal friend.