• Two entomologist pose with their technical equipment and fossil insects

    Dr. Stewart Peck (left) in his home office, with microscope always ready for close examination of specimens. (Photo: Jarmila Peck); Dr. Jarmila Peck with her world-class collection of fossil insects that she donated to the Canadian Museum of Nature. (Photo: Dan Smythe).

Researchers of six-legged creatures that creep, crawl and fly just received a huge boost from Drs. Stewart and Jarmila Peck.

Known both for their entomological research and education, the duo recently provided a major endowment to the Canadian Museum of Nature to support visiting researchers studying the museum’s vast collection of beetle and fossil insect specimens. The donation will finance travel, lodging and associated costs.

The Pecks are paying it forward, the endowment reflecting both gratitude and educational duty (both taught at Carleton University for more than 40 years). According to Stewart, “Over our careers, we benefitted from grants and other financial support, not to mention collaborations with mentors [...] Now that we have the means, we want to return the favour and help others with similar opportunities.”

“Studying nature requires a lifelong commitment. We want to support young researchers as they build their professional careers,” adds Jarmila.

Over his career, Stewart has been a prolific living collector of insect specimens; Jarmila donated her collection of thousands of fossil insects to the Canadian Museum of Nature in 2018. The museum already holds nearly 500,000 of the Pecks’ beetle specimens, some of which may be used to measure regional biodiversity health (beetles recycle organic matter and nutrients to ensure long-term sustainability within many ecosystems).

The Pecks’ philanthropy comes at a critical time as the shadow of climate change and habitat loss has led researchers to ramp up their quest to understand the importance of global biodiversity. 

Canadian Geographic recently acknowledged Stewart Peck as one of the Top 100 Explorers, citing his more than 50 years of research in entomology and biogeography, as well his mentorship of accomplished scientific researchers. Jarmila Peck has been hailed as one the world’s foremost palaeoentomologists and has been a member of the Royal Society of Canada since 1992.