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'Recovering' scientist's latest experiment involves engaging readers

'We should never stop learning how to make things better, especially our environment,' says Peter Bursztyn, whose new column will launch this weekend
2021-10-26 Peter Bursztyn rectangular
Peter Bursztyn

Peter Bursztyn is a self-proclaimed “recovering scientist” who has a passion for all things based in science and the environment. 

The now-retired former university academic has taught and carried out research at universities in Africa, Britain and Canada. And now Bursztyn, who's also a member of BarrieToday's community advisory board, will be adding columnist to his resume.

“I spent my life in science, graduating from McGill University and started off with a bachelor's degree in math and physics, combined honours,” he says. “Halfway through, I shifted over to physics and physiology, which is now biophysics.”

Bursztyn admits he loves to have people ask questions to what he's talking about, likely something he enjoyed from his years teaching while outside Canada as a young man.

The 79-year-old says the first job he ever had was teaching medical students at the University of East Africa on the Nairobi campus.

“Before that, I had only had summer jobs at a bookstore and as a dark-room technician,” Bursztyn says. “Picture it  for the first time I am now on the other side of the room. A short time before I was sitting in the audience listening to lectures, now I’m the one giving them.

"I was both full of fear and fascinated at the same time.”

Bursztyn and his wife (she has a PhD in immunology) live in Barrie and have two adult daughters. One teaches university geology, the other is an ophthalmologist. He is a founding member of Environmental Action Barrie, which is now called Living Green Barrie, and a member of several other environmental groups.

Bursztyn is an enthusiastic rower and member of the Barrie Rowing Club. Committed to the sport, he has been a Rowing Canada Umpire for about a quarter century. 

Until COVID, he also “worked” as a volunteer porter at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH).

With great experience locally and around the world when it comes to science and the environment, Burzstyn says it won’t be very easy to localize the issues, but he can find a way. 

“The key is to understand we can no longer separate ourselves into a locality; we are a microcosm world,” he says. “What affects us here in Barrie could very well affect someone in another part of the world.”

Questions are what Bursztyn is hoping to attract through his semi-regular column and he encourages readers to ask questions to start a conversation.

“There isn’t enough of that nowadays, questions that lead to meaningful and insightful conversation,” Bursztyn says. “Anything from the environment to energy and everything in between. Questions, thoughts, anything to keep us learning, finding out how and why things work.

"We should never stop learning how to make things better, especially our environment.”

Bursztyn's first column will appear this weekend. 

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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