U of T news
  • Follow U of T News

Convocation 2015: CBC's Bob McDonald receives honorary degree from U of T

Author, science journalist and popular public speaker Bob McDonald, host of Quirks and Quarks since 1992, has explained the science behind everything from climate change to space missions for millions of Canadians

The University of Toronto is recognizing Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio’s popular science show Quirks and Quarks, with an honorary degree.

An author, science journalist and public speaker in high demand, McDonald received the honour June 3 during convocation ceremonies for students from the University of Toronto Mississauga graduating with a Bachelor of Science or Honours Bachelor of Science degree. 

McDonald began his foray into science by working as a demonstrator at the Ontario Science Centre in 1972 and later went to California to watch the live action of NASA's early space probes to the planets. Once back in Canada, he was much in demand for information about the missions and eventually became the regular science correspondent for a number of television and radio programs.

photo of Bob McDonald with telescopeApart from Quirks & Quarks, McDonald is a regular science commentator on the CBC News Network and science correspondent for CBC TV's The National. He was the host of CBC Television’s children's science program Wonderstruck and is the author of two books based on the program, Wonderstruck I and Wonderstruck II.

As well as his career with the CBC, McDonald hosted and wrote a children’s science series for TVOntario called Heads Up!, which ran for three seasons starting in 2005. He has also written, hosted and produced more than 100 educational videos in the U.S.

McDonald's book Measuring the Earth with a Stick: Science As I've Seen It, a collection of essays on 25 years as a science journalist, was published in 2000 and was short-listed for the Canadian Science Writers Association Book Award. 

His latest book, Canadian Spacewalkers, Hadfield, MacLean and Williams Remember the Ultimate High Adventure, was released in the fall of 2014. 

McDonald has received numerous accolades, including a Gemini award in 2008 for his work on Heads Up!, and eight honorary doctorates from universities across Canada, as well as two honorary college degrees. He has been honoured by the science community with what is considered the triple crown of awards: the Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion (2001); the Sandford Fleming Medal from the Royal Canadian Institute (2002); and the McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science (2005).

He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2011 “for his contributions, as a journalist and educator, to the public understanding of science.” 

Apart from science, McDonald’s other passions are sailing and motorcycling.

McDonald lives in and broadcasts from Victoria, B.C. There, with his partner Sharon MacKenzie, he sails the Gulf Islands and spectacular B.C. coastline. 

Convocation ceremonies at U of T will run until June 19 at the downtown campus. More than 13,000 students are expected to graduate and more than 44,000 visitors are expected to join in the celebrations.