Leonard Butler Graduate Scholarship in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Professor Leonard Butler

Leonard Butler was born in Finedon, England, 1912. He was orphaned at age 15 and on his own, migrated to Canada where he was an indentured farm youth to pay for his passage. He attended Ontario Agricultural college, Guelph and obtained his doctorate at University of Toronto.

Len was employed as their fur trade biologist by the Hudson’s Bay Co. for 7 years, then Assistant Professor, genetics at McGill before joining Zoology at U of T, 1948-1975. There he organized the Graduate Department of Zoology and served as Associate Dean, School fo Graduate Studies with his steady quiet efficiency.

Professor Butler gained international recognition in quantitative and linkage genetics in tomatoes, quantitative genetics of mice, genetics of diabetes in mice, and animal population dynamics. Prior to retirement Professor Butler was a consultant for Upjohn in the breeding of diabetic Chinese hamsters, and he was asked to advise on the BioBreeders, Ottawa rat colony. He designed the breeding program to increase the frequency of diabetic rats which led to the a similar role in Worcester Mass. and the production of 80-95% diabetics which are shipped worldwide.

Another project of Butler’s in retirement was the breeding of asparagus. To produce fields of uniform, high-quality, high-yielding asparagus required a new approach. He collected YY seeds (supermales which were crossed to the best females, yielding uniform, all make progeny).

Professor Leonard Butler

At age 80, National Institute of Health asked Dr. Butler to renew his consultancy contract for another 5 years; he couldn’t resist pointing out that at 60 they thought he was too old to be their geneticist for the Chinese hamster. In retirement Professor Butler published 13 papers on diabetic rats and participate in international conferences in Kobe, Geneva and Jerusalem. Leonard Butler died suddenly June 2008.