In her James Bay garden, amidst freshly-planted nasturtiums, Mary-Lou Florain finds inspiration for her sketches, vegetables for her dinner plate and plenty of flowers for her neighbours.
The 85-year-old conservation scientist also finds fodder for her work, which has resulted in more than 50 academic publications and, as announced last week, an honourary doctor of science degree from the University of Victoria.
“It was quite an honour, quite a surprise, and I’m going to cherish it very much,” said Florian, who continues to lecture at UVic as well as at schools in the U.S.
She is currently editing the fourth book since her retirement. The book looks at biofilm (a kind of slime) found on heritage materials.
“We haven’t paid much attention to (biofilm), so I thought I better write a book and bring us up to snuff,” she said. “I like to pass on my information, that’s why I write … all this information I worked so hard to get.”
Long-time friend Shirley Brodeur, finds inspiration in Florain’s continued success.
“She’s still teaching, still writing books, still helping young people understand this world of conservation. I think it’s inspiring,” Brodeur said. “Good God, I hope I’m still doing that when I’m 85.”
Florian was the first biologist hired by the Canadian Conservation Institute before she joined the staff of the Royal B.C. Museum in 1978, where she focused much of her career on artifact conservation – especially First Nations’ totems, basketry and wooden cultural objects recovered from waterlogged archaeological sites. The degree will be conferred upon Florian during a June 14 ceremony at UVic.