Dr. Joe MacInnis

Event Date and Time: 
Friday, October 29, 2010 - 7:30pm
Dick and Jane LeVan Theatre
Event Type: 
Mac Campbell Lecture Series

Joseph MacInnis is a medical doctor who spent three decades studying the physiology and psychology of men and women working under the sea. Between 1964 and 1994, he led 30 expeditions and logged more than 5,000 hours under the Great Lakes and the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. Since 1994, he has been using his undersea experiences to explore new ways of improving the relationships between the human family and the natural world.

After graduating medicine from the University of Toronto, Dr. MacInnis had an internship at the Toronto General Hospital and then was awarded a Link Foundation Fellowship to study diving medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1964, he became medical director of Edwin Link’s Man-In Sea Project and in 1965 medical director of Ocean Systems Inc. In 1969, he became a medical consultant to the United States Navy’s SEA LAB 3 programme, and the following year was asked to assist in the research and writing of Canada’s first national ocean policy. Between 1978 and 1983, Dr. MacInnis led the team that discovered, explored and filmed HMS Breadalbane, the world’s northernmost known shipwreck.

Dr. MacInnis turned his attention to the study of humans and machines exploring the deep ocean. In 1985, he was an advisor to the Titanic discovery team and two years later made his first dive to the wreck. In 1991, he was co-leader of one of the most daring deep sea projects ever conducted, a $2 million expedition to film the Titanic in the Imax format and was the first to study the great ship in her biological, geological and metallurgical contexts. This expedition inspired James Cameron’s Hollywood film, Titanic. He also worked with the director on a series of deep-sea documentaries, the 3-D Imax film Aliens of the Deep and a 90-minute live broadcast from the Titanic wreck aired on Discovery Channel.

Between 1996 and 2004, Dr. MacInnis chaired the TD Financial Group’s “Friends of the Environment Foundation”—a unique partnership that has contributed more than $40 to environmental projects across Canada. Dr. MacInnis is actively involved in a number of community service projects including the Trudeau Foundation in Montreal, Pearson College of the Pacific in Victoria, Pollution Probe, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Trudeau Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto.

Dr. MacInnis has written 10 books and numerous articles for newspapers and magazines, including Scientific American, National Geographic, and Wired. His books include Underwater Man, Saving the Ocean, Fitzgerald’s Storm, Titanic in a New Light, and Surviving Terrorism. His two most recent books, Breathing Underwater (Penguin) and Aliens of the Deep (National Geographic Books) were published in 2005.

Dr. MacInnis’ work has earned him a number of distinctions including five honorary doctorates, the Queen’s Anniversary Medal, the Admiral’s Medal, and his country’s highest honour, the Order of Canada.