Mark Webber

Unido: 27.dic.2016 Última actividad: 27.jul.2022 iNaturalist Canada

Academic and Artistic Background

Mark Webber's background also includes research in molecular biology and chemistry, as well as training in the fine arts and crafts. During his teens, he spent a year (1970-1971) studying organic chemistry under the guidance of Dr. G. F. Wright (professor emeritus of Chemistry, University of Toronto), in his private laboratory. His mentors in molecular biology at the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI), University of Toronto (1970-1972 ) were Dr.’s Alan Bernstein (President and CEO of CIFAR), Andrew Becker(d. 2015) and Barry Rolfe (ANU). After studying molecular biology in a course taught by Alan Bernstein within the SEED program he became a Summer Student Researcher where, under the direction of Dr. Andrew Becker he investigated whether phage λ viruses have the ability to use the DNA repair mechanism of the infected bacterial host E. coli. They do. In the following year, besides studying molecular biology and chemistry at U of T and at the OCI he continued a research project into the novel synthesis of a fluorescein-methyl methacrylate polymer with funding by Dr. Williams, Department of Chemical Engineering (UofT) (1973).

His Masters degree in Anthropology (1980) was supervised by Dr. Charles Laughlin (emeritus professor of anthropology and religion at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada), and investigated the interconnections between meditation, ritual, neurophysiology and endocrinology, with the thesis: Ritual:A Model of Symbol Penetration (https://books.google.ca/books/about/Ritual.html?id=YbjHxgEACAAJ&redir_esc=y). A number of papers and a book chapter (http://link.umsl.edu/portal/The-Power-of-symbols–masks-and-masquerade-in/D3foX6w0dC0/) were published on these topics within the neuroanthropological theory of “biogenetic structuralism”, and co-authored with: Charles Laughlin, Chris Stephens and John McManus.

He spent a year studying at the Toronto School of Art (1973-74) and in 1994 was a member of the Art Institute at Capilano College, North Vancouver studying and making bronze casting under the guidance of George Rammell.

In the mid-1980’s he was a regional economic planner for the Government of the Northwest Territories (Iqaluit) and later became an economic and arts consultant in Canada’s Eastern Arctic. He taught quarry operations in Canada’s arctic and learnt sculpture in stone and clay. While working as a consultant in the Eastern Arctic (from 1987-1989) he studied stone sculpture under the guidance of George Pratt, Sam Pitsiulak, Phillip Pitsiulak and John McKinnon and was able to fundraise and collaborate on some major sculptures. In addition Lama Webber was a professional gemstone cutter, fulfilling commissions for a number of jewellers across Canada. After assisting in the securing of funding for initiating college level arts and crafts training in the Northwest Territories, he became (1989 to 1997) the Coordinator and Senior Instructor of the Fine Arts and Crafts Programs at Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. In addition to administering and fundraising for the Program, he also taught gem cutting, art history and elements of design.

He moved to Nelson, British Columbia in 1997 where he took up the Executive Directorship of the Kootenay School of the Arts, Centre of Craft and Design. In 2000, he accepted the invitation to be the Resident Teacher of the Dharma Centre of Canada where he taught and studied during Namgyal Rinpoche’s remaining years. It was in those years that the Lama established a retreat and teaching centre in Rossland, B.C. before accepting the invitation to move to Galiano Island in 2007 and be the Resident and guiding teacher for the Crystal Mountain Society.

Recent Biological Research
In the late 1990’s while on retreat with Namgyal Rinpoche, Lama Mark received a personal injunction by Rinpoche, to “know the minds of all sentient beings.” To further extend his contemplation of this instruction and following the advice of his teacher not to give up his strong interest and study of science for others, in 2001 Lama Mark decided to begin a long term study of the immense and unseen life forms of this planet. The vast majority—perhaps over 99%—of all life on this planet is not visible to the naked human eye and most of these organisms are now considered sentient. All this ‘unseen’ life is interdependent and interconnected, communicating with most other life forms; from fungi and plants, bacteria and humans, to viruses and coral reefs, to cite only a few examples. Big life—humans, giraffes, coral reefs, trees and whales—all organisms, rely on these remarkable microorganisms for their physical and mental health, growth, illness and death. This study and contemplation has focused primarily on marine and freshwater algae, plankton and fungi.

Beginning in 2001 with a Swift portable field microscope, followed by a Leica stereo-microscope and camera, the Lama traveled to retreats and courses to share his interest and knowledge in microscopic life through classes and via the internet. Many of his older light microscopic and scanning electron microscope (SEM) images (with brief taxonomic descriptions) can be found on the University of British Columbia’s Biomedia Image and Movie Database (https://www.biomedia.cellbiology.ubc.ca/cellbiol/). More current images and taxonomic descriptions and observational notes are found at iNaturalist (Galiano Island, B.C.): https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&user_id=lamamark&verifiable=any .

In order to gain a deeper appreciation of biological principles found in most lifeforms, over the last ten years his research has focused on the taxonomy, ecology, life cycle, and stress of the coastal marine diatom Ditylum. In addition, a long term project is to: catalogue, photograph (light and electron microscopic imaging), review the current taxonomic status and species indicators, barcode the specimens and record observations of environmental and cloned cells of marine diatoms around Galiano Island and other areas of the Salish Sea (the last published research was 1976 and 1943). Other current projects include describing a marine fungi associated with Ditylum brightwellii, collaborating with the Parfrey Lab at UBC and Elaine Humphrey at the AMF at UVIC on studying the diatoms and microbiotia of eelgrass (https://imerss.org/2020/09/20/eelgrass-community-ecology/), describing a halophilic fungi growing in a concentrated Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) solution and developing SEM microscopic techniques ( https://doi.org/10.1017/S155192951900124X) in collaboration with Elaine Humphrey at the University of Victoria’s Advanced Microscopy Facility (AMF).

Mark Webber is a founding member, previous Board member and a contributing member of IMERSS (Institute for Multidisciplinary Ecological Research in the Salish Sea, https://imerss.org/) a federally incorporated non-profit institute with its headquarters and laboratory on Galiano Island, BC.

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