Campus Life

U of L professor Dr. Jennifer Mather served as the scientific adviser on Oscar-winning documentary

A documentary film 10 years in the making, My Octopus Teacher won an Oscar for best documentary feature at Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony and those cheering included Dr. Jennifer Mather, a University of Lethbridge psychology professor and octopus expert.

“I was really pleased to see this wonderful documentary win an Oscar,” says Mather. “Craig has created a film that helps us understand more about octopuses and how intelligent they are.”

The film tells the story of a year Craig Foster, a South African filmmaker, spent with a wild octopus in the Great African Seaforest at the southwest tip of Africa. During the editing process, Foster wanted to ensure the film was scientifically accurate. In 2018, Mather flew to Cape Town and joined the editing team as a scientific consultant. She spent 10 days working with Foster to ensure octopuses were portrayed accurately.

“We got on really well when I was there and he’s part of a foundation dedicated to saving the oceans, especially the kelp forest where he visited the octopuses,” says Mather. “Craig’s a fabulous photographer and I borrowed some of his photos to use in a study about octopuses in camouflage. And I’m hoping to visit again in the future.”