Don has a long history of association with the Canadian National Collection. He was born 8 December 1948 across the street - literally - from the CNC in Ottawa, Canada, and lived the first 12 years of his life less than a mile away, but never knew it was there. From about the age of four he began collecting: insects, bird nests, rocks, fossils, skulls, but it was a science teacher when he was in grade seven that focused his attention on Lepidoptera with a science project on butterflies. One summer while out collecting, he ran into Eugene Munroe, who told him about the CNC, and after that there were many visits to see Munroe, Tom Freeman, and Dave Hardwick. The latter took an interest in Don and mentored him in his budding interest in noctuids. Don continued to have a broad interest in natural history and worked several summers as a park naturalist and two at the CNC as a summer student before being hired as a Biologist (Carleton U, Ottawa) in 1972. Don went to the University of Alberta, Edmonton, to study with George Ball in 1976 (PhD 1979) and continued his work at the CNC, reclassified as Research Scientist.
On 11 September 1971, Don married Herma, whom he met when he was 17 while collecting moths at a summer camp where he was teaching canoeing. She was attracted by "that strange blue light in the forest." Herma accompanies him on most field trips and museum travel. They have two married daughters, Heather and Julie, and two granddaughters, Erika and Natalie.
Don has been a Director on the Wedge Board since 1985 and on the Editorial Board since 2007. He served as Division Editor (2002-2007) and Associate Editor (2004-) of The Canadian Entomologist, and co-editor for New World Macromoths for ZooKeys (2008-). Don was President of the Lepidopterists' Society (2001-2002) and is a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution (1998-).
Don's research interests are the systematics and zoogeography of North American Noctuoidea and the higher classification of the superfamily. Don has authored or co-authored 80+ research papers (>1600 pp.) and seven books (> 1800 pp.), including five fascicles in the Moths of North America series and The Butterflies of Canada, the latter with Ross Layberry and Peter Hall.