Lydia Dotto, who served as president of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association from 1979-1980, died September 17, 2022 in Peterborough, Ontario, after a three-year battle with cancer. She was 73.
Born in Cadomin, Alberta, Lydia graduated from Carleton University’s School of Journalism in 1971. She was hired by The Globe and Mail as their science writer in 1972 following the departure of David Spurgeon.
On her first day on the job, Lydia met Joan Hollobon, then medical reporter for The Globe and Mail, and for the next six years, Lydia and Joan were the lead science and medical writers at Canada’s national newspaper. Their combined voices and interests cemented what became a lifelong friendship.
Lydia left The Globe and Mail in 1978 and established herself as a successful Canadian freelance science, nature and environmental writer and editor. With every breath she took, Lydia celebrated science. She was awarded the Sandford Fleming Medal in 1983 by the Royal Canadian Institute for outstanding achievement in promoting understanding of science among the Canadian public.
Lydia developed a special relationship with the Canadian Space Agency and Canada’s astronauts who worked there and with NASA. She was co-director of SpaceNet, a website affiliated with Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto, where she also taught science writing. She led science writing and communications workshops for scientists in universities, industry and government, and she taught a course in environmental communications at Trent University from 2004-2014.
Author of a dozen books, including The Astronauts: Canada’s Voyageurs in Space (1993), Lydia was also a passionate freelance photographer focusing on nature and wildlife. She traveled the world – most recently to the Antarctic and Australia – and captured in photograph images that have been published in nature, conservation and wildlife magazines, as well as websites and blogs.
Encouraged to join by Joan Hollobon, Lydia became a member of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association in 1972 shortly after she was hired as science writer by The Globe and Mail. She was elected president of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association in 1979 for a one year term.
Lydia won numerous Canadian Science Writers’ Association Science; Society Journalism Awards and accolades, including:
-1974 for an article in The Globe and Mail on nuclear terrorism;
-1981 for an article in the University of Toronto Magazine on high energy physics;
-1984 for an article in Quest magazine on women in science;
-1989 honorable mention for an article in The Globe and Mail on electromagnetography;
-1993 for an article in The Globe and Mail on ethical choices and global warming;
-1994 for an article in the University of Toronto Magazine on ethics and genetic testing;
-2004 for an article in the Canadian Bar Association “National” magazine on detecting lies.
Predeceased by her parents August (Gus) Dotto and Assunta Dotto (nee Paron), Lydia is survived by her younger sister Terry Dotto, and numerous friends.
Submitted by Andy F. Visser-deVries