The passion of a scientist

Combining one’s passion with a career is a rare feat, but Amit Saxena has successfully merged the two.

A veteran wildlife biologist with TC Energy, he has valued nature for as long as he can remember.

“I grew up loving the outdoors and my family was always supportive of what we had a passion for,” Amit says of his childhood in Edmonton, Alberta, as he watches his daughter’s hockey practice. “Mine was for the outdoors, wildlife and sports.”

It was this passion that spurred him to take a year off from his wildlife biology studies at the University of Alberta (UofA) to volunteer with Dr. David Mech (pronounced meech), an American biologist specializing in the study of wolves. Mech was heading efforts to re-introduce grey wolves to Yellowstone National Park, where the species had been extinct in the park for a century.

Mech told Amit that, because PhD students around the world also applied, his chances of being picked were slim. But at the last minute, one of those doctoral students backed out and Mech offered Amit the position.

The opportunity allowed Amit to both study and care for wolves in the bold efforts to stabilize the park’s ecosystem.

“It was very hands on, we were touching a lot of fur,” Amit recalls. “We did a lot of animal care without being veterinarians.”

Helping caribou thrive

After the volunteer gig, Amit completed his undergraduate degree at UofA, as well as a master’s degree in conservation biology. He became an expert in his own right on wolves and bears, North America’s largest carnivores, working in Alaska and Canada’s four mountain parks—Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho.

“Wolves are very close to my heart,” Amit says.

His current “labour of love” is boreal woodland caribou, an endangered species across North America. Boreal caribou range across seven Canadian provinces and two territories, from Yukon in the west to Newfoundland and Labrador in the east.

 

No such thing as an “average day”

Amit spends many field days observing the caribou and their habitat, though he often inhabits his office in downtown Calgary as TC Energy’s senior environmental advisor.

“My days consist of a combination of mostly office days interspersed with field days visiting project sites and auditing the work of consultants,” he says. “I have numerous wildlife-related requirements met by a variety of consultants doing wildlife habitat surveys, pre-construction wildlife surveys, tree planting and site reclamation, remote camera wildlife monitoring programs and post-construction reclamation monitoring.”

All field activities and studies related to wildlife and biodiversity are reported to federal and provincial governments through regulators such as the Canada Energy Regulator or Alberta Environment.

“We are required to do this, but it’s also important to our company and our industry. The biggest evolution in my career recently has been translating the positive work on environmental issues into financial instruments of benefit for the sector through ESG (environmental, social and governance) reporting. New ESG reporting frameworks at various scales, project through global.”

Amit Saxena, Senior Environmental Advisor, TC Energy

Amit also collaborates with Indigenous Peoples to learn from their deeper understanding of caribou and reflect that through his efforts to protect the animals and their environment.

“Caribou are a big, big part of their lives, their history and their culture,” he says.

Amit says caribou are an indicator of the environment and its wellbeing—when the environment thrives, the caribou thrive, and vice versa.  

“My work is about restoration. The caribou need habitat restoration and that’s where I come in as an industry representative the manage our industry footprint on the land,” Amit explains.

According to Amit, the energy sector has made huge strides in reducing its footprint by developing and adopting clean technology, or cleantech.

It’s important for the energy sector to continue developing energy resources and providing energy to the masses, but it’s also important to do it responsibly, to reduce emissions and to reduce impacts on air, water, land and biodiversity. This is why I am interested in the ‘clean energy’ side of the industry, somewhere I can contribute to meeting this lofty goal.

Amit Saxena, Senior Environmental Advisor, TC Energy

That is not the only lofty goal Amit wants to contribute to. “I want to open doors to broad thinking about what we can do to save caribou.” And he wants to do it using science and passion.

Company

TC Energy

Location

Calgary, Alberta

Education

Master’s degree, Conservation Biology

Bachelor’s degree, Wildlife Biology

Salary, education and advancement may vary from company to company.


Interested in working in Canada’s clean energy sector? Explore Working in Energy.

Find a role that’s right for you. Review available job opportunities.

Previous Next
Back to top
No results were found.