U of G Plays Prominent Role at Royal Winter Fair

November 02, 2007 - Campus Bulletin

Innovations and cutting-edge research from the University of Guelph are front and centre at this year's Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, with displays and talks covering a broad range of topics, including growing plants in outer space, building cars out of biomaterials and combatting disease with healthy food.

The annual fall fair, which runs Nov. 2 to 11 at Exhibition Place in Toronto, is billed as the largest indoor event combining agricultural, horticultural, canine and equestrian exhibits.

The event attracts more than 350,000 people and is an excellent opportunity for the University to showcase its innovative research and wide breadth of expertise, said Rob McLaughlin, president and chair of the fair's board.

"The University of Guelph is involved in almost every aspect of this fair," said McLaughlin, who was seconded from his position as the University's associate vice-president (research) agri-food and partnerships to devote full attention to the fair. "I'm delighted at how many different angles and how many different people from Guelph are getting engaged in this event."

In the Agriculture Innovation and Education Area, the University has a number of hands-on demonstrations to show how agriculture provides solutions to societal issues surrounding energy, transportation, food, health and climate change.

Prof. Mike Dixon, director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility and chair of the Department of Environmental Biology, will be showcasing the latest in controlled atmosphere technology.

There will be a greenhouse display depicting his cutting-edge research aimed at growing plants in space, as well as information on his award-winning Tomatosphere project sponsored by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

A hands-on exhibit designed by Prof. Hugh Earl, Department of Plant Agriculture, will demonstrate how plants use light to fix carbon dioxide, an important part of life-support systems in space.

On Nov. 9, Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk will join Dixon in giving a talk on the Tomatosphere project.

"The education and training opportunities that come from this combination of space science and agriculture are unlimited," said Dixon. "When it comes to driving technical innovation in the agriculture sector, there is nothing more powerful than the challenge of life support in space."

The University is also involved in an exhibit on the BioCar, a project investigating how biomaterials such as hemp, soybeans, flax and other plant fibres can be used instead of petroleum-based products to make car parts.

Prof. Amar Mohanty, who was recently appointed to the Premier’s Research Chair in Biomaterials and Transportation at Guelph, will speak as part of the Innovation in Action program on environmental energy and biomaterials. During the same program, Prof. Peter Pauls, Department of Plant Agriculture, will discuss "Crops for Cars, Clothes and Packaging."

A number of U of G human nutrition experts will be making presentations as part of the Journey to Good Health exhibit. Prof. Terry Graham, chair of the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, will give a talk called "Good Food and Exercise Are Cheap Medicine." Prof. Alison Duncan of the same department will be discussing "Functional Foods for Health," and Prof. Gopi Paliyath, Department of Plant Agriculture, will present "Fruit and Vegetable Consumption for Disease Prevention."

Equine Guelph will again be running the EquiMania exhibit aimed at teaching young people about horse health care and riding safety through hands-on activities. Sponsored by the Ontario Harness Horse Association and System Fencing, the area will also have information available on Guelph's bachelor of bioresource management degree in equine management, the only degree of its kind in Canada.

In addition, the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) and the OVC Pet Trust Fund will unveil a new display to launch the campaign in support of the OVC animal cancer centre. The OVC Pet Trust booth, which will be located in a high-profile location next to the popular Iams SuperDogs display, will feature hands-on displays including models and X-rays of canine anatomy.

OVC Pet Trust is raising $10-million in support of Canada’s first comprehensive animal cancer centre, the clinical arm of the new Institute of Comparative Cancer Investigation at the University of Guelph (ICCI). The new institute is dedicated to providing comprehensive cancer care for companion animals and unlocking the deadly secrets of disease for the benefit of all species, including humans. The animal cancer centre will operate within the OVC Teaching Hospital, providing leading-edge diagnostic imaging, cancer treatment, veterinary teaching and clinical research.

The Ontario Agricultural College, the Colonel K.L. Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare and the Youth Science and Technology Outreach Program have planned a display that highlights the activities of these groups. It will include short films by the University's agricultural communications program on issues in agriculture, a demonstration of housing preferences by chicks, and information on research and teaching programs at Guelph and the campuses at Alfred, Kemptville and Ridgetown.

The University will also have a strong presence in the Royal show rings with students, faculty and alumni participating as competitors and judges.

For more information on the Royal Winter Fair.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1