Catherine Potvin is a professor in the Department of Biology at McGill University and holds the Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests (Tier 1). She is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She obtained her Ph.D. in botany from Duke University, North Carolina, and since then, she has always worked on issues related to global climate change.
Her current work focuses on tropical ecology, and her research supports international efforts to reduce deforestation in the tropics. She has been working with the Embera people of Panama since 1994, which has helped her develop participatory approaches to integrate the human dimension in biological analysis. Her research in Panama spans a broad range of issues from remote sensing to capacity building and conflict resolution, the unifying theme being forest conservation and climate change.
She has edited two books and published over 100 scientific journal articles or book chapters. She has received prestigious awards, both in Canada and abroad. Catherine served as Panama's negotiator of the Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation's initiative (REDD) in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (2005-2009), which allowed her to acquire a solid international experience in policy. She is currently leading Sustainable Canada Dialogues, an initiative that mobilizes scholars from across Canada to propose a blueprint for Canada's transition to a low-carbon economy.