In 1942, at the age of six, he was interned at a camp in British Columbia, where he spent the war years. After the Second World War, he grew up in London, Ont. He graduated from Amherst College in 1958 with an honours BA in biology and PhD in zoology from the University of Chicago.
Suzuki is a geneticist. He was a research associate in the Biology Division of the Oak Ridge national lab (1961-62), assistant professor in genetics at the University of Alberta (1962-63) and a faculty member of the University of British Columbia, where he is currently a professor emeritus.
By the early 1970s, Suzuki was quickly gaining notice as one of Canada's most promising scientists. For three consecutive years (1969 to 1971), the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship named Suzuki the best Canadian scientist under age 35 for his groundbreaking work in the genetic engineering of fruit flies. Teaching zoology at the University of British Columbia, Suzuki's classes were crammed with enthusiastic students as he spoke about the interconnectedness of life and nature, science and art.
He began his career in broadcasting because of his passion to provide audiences with a way to understand the complex world of science. He soon realized that the "social ramifications of science can be immense" and he began to ask the questions no one else was asking.
In 1974 he developed and hosted the still-running science program Quirks and Quarks for CBC Radio. He hosted the program for four years. Quirks and Quarks made science accessible and interesting to the mainstream listening audience in a unique and offbeat fashion. The show featured interviews with inventors and found the science angle behind many current affairs stories.
Suzuki has since presented two documentary radio series on the environment, It's a Matter of Survival and From Naked Ape to Superspecies.
But Suzuki had began his television career with CBC in 1971 when he wrote and hosted Suzuki on Science. He was then the host of Science Magazine from 1974-79. During that period he also created and hosted a number of television specials. In 1979 he became host of The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, which he continues to host today.
From his experiments with fruit flies to his warnings about genetically modified food, Suzuki has made science relevant, interesting and full of wonder to his audiences. As a broadcaster for the CBC, he has issued frank warnings against industry, the economy and his fellow scientists. Passionate and outspoken, he has also won his fair share of critics. But despite, or perhaps because of this, Suzuki remains undeterred in his message.
During his career, he has won four Gemini Awards for best host for various television series. His eight-part television series, A Planet for the Taking, won an award from the United Nations. In 2002, he received the John Drainie Award for broadcasting excellence.
He is recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology and has received the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for Science, the United Nations Environment Medal and the UNEP Global 500. In 2009, he won the Right Livelihood Award, which is considered the alternative Nobel prize. He has also received 25 honorary degrees in Canada, the United States and Australia.
He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and a companion of the Order of Canada. He is also author of 52 books.
A Canadian icon for many years, Canadians bestowed on Suzuki the status of fifth greatest Canadian in the 2004 special CBC documentary series, The Greatest Canadian.
Keep checking CBC's 75th anniversary site learn more about Suzuki's work with CBC and to see an exclusive interview where he reflects on his career and memories of the public broadcaster.