Remembering Dr. Doug Inglis: A Tribute to a Life Well-Lived

 Posted: October, 2023


Pictured here: Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse, life-long partners in science and life doing what they loved most. Photo: Dr. Ron Teather.

Tribute to Dr. G. Douglas Inglis by Dr. Wade Abbott:

Recently, we lost a colleague, adventurer, and brilliant scientist. During a backcountry hiking trip, of which they had taken many, Doug and his partner Jenny were attacked by a bear on Friday September 29th in Banff National Park. Despite their preparedness and years of experience, they would succumb to their injuries and were taken from us too soon. As we cope with this loss and start to heal, I wanted to share a few stories about Doug for those that did not have opportunity to know him.

Doug graduated from the University of Alberta with his Bachelor’s degree (Applied Microbiology) in 1985. This was followed by a Master’s degree (Microbiology) from the University of Guelph (1989) and Doctoral degree (Microbiology) from Simon Fraser University (1996). He then joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a postdoctoral fellow (1996-1998). Doug’s first independent position was as an Assistant Professor in Microbiology Agriculture at Mississippi State University (1998-2000). In 2001, Doug returned to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a Research Scientist where he spent the next 22 years developing a program that studied the interactions between bacteria, their hosts, and the environment in efforts to improve animal health, food safety, and agricultural sustainability. Over the course of his career, his research spanned many disciplines, including entomology, bacteriology, mycology, animal stress, and glycobiology.

When I first met Doug, we connected right away. I was a brand-new scientist trying to figure out how to start a research program and transition from human health into the field of agriculture. I had also spent two years in the Deep South at the University of Georgia, and we found we had a lot in common. We spent many days talking college football, culture and politics. We bonded over these topics, despite the fact that Georgia had a much stronger football program (Doug loved to contest this point). We spent the next 12 years working closely together, “in the trenches” as he would say. Doug was so enthusiastic about his research and the opportunity to make a difference for Canadians. His outlook help me shape a new perspective on how privileged we are to conduct public good research for a living. Often during our chats, Doug would mix-in stories about the “good old days.” He was a jokester and gifted story teller, and his tales of grad school, earlier times at our research centre, and his adventures in the backcountry would always come to life. Many times listening to Doug, I felt like we were living the good old days right then. And now looking back I known in some ways we were.

Doug touched many lives through his teaching, mentorship, and research. He would not miss an opportunity to generously train and advocate for his team members. He was Adjunct Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary, and Departments of Neuroscience and Biological Sciences at the University of Lethbridge. In these roles, he supervised countless students that have gone on to successful careers in research and industry, many of which I know are grateful for the guidance and opportunities that Doug provided for them. 

Doug’s move into glycoscience came later in his career. It was an exciting time as we connected over topics that considered selective advantages for microbes that can digest rare carbohydrates and the protective role of sugars that line the digestive tract. Around 2013, Doug charted a new course for our organization, developing a containment facility and new technologies to improve bird health and performance. Combining advanced techniques and animal models he brought a modern view and fresh solutions to historical problems facing Canadian poultry producers. Much of this work has been published; however, as it often seems with successful scientists in the twilight of their careers, we are left wondering what he would have discovered if he had a little more time.

It is during difficult times like these, when someone is taken suddenly, that we have a chance to reflect on our relationships, priorities, and the way we want to be remembered. Thank you Doug for the lessons you taught us and the legacy you left us – to take the less traveled path and chart new courses in our science and personal lives. 

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