The Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph offers a broad range of exciting and innovative research and training opportunities for undergraduates, diploma students, graduate students and post-doctoral research fellows. Heres what a few recent graduate students and a new faculty member have to say about their experiences in our department:
"The thing that impressed me most about the Plant Agriculture Department here at Guelph is the high level of teaching, especially in the plant breeding courses I've taken. Teaching here is taken very seriously."
- Jeremy Murray, Ph.D. Student
"I appreciate being able to use a variety of modern equipment."
- Grant Woronuk, MSc. Student
"I've really enjoyed the opportunity to experience the agricultural roots of plant science while working in a very well-equipped molecular biology laboratory. One of this department's strongest assets is the friendly, dedicated people that I have the pleasure of working with. I've had a wonderful time at all of our social events, too!"
- Heather Shearer, Ph.D. Student
"Compared to other places I've been in the U.S. and Canada, I'm really surprised by how much discussion there is among faculty on how to improve and update the department's courses and curriculum. This department really cares about its students."
- Manish Raizada, Assistant Professor, Plant Agriculture
The Department of Plant Agriculture Offers Unique Inter-Disciplinary Training
Whether its gaining practical hands-on experience learning how to conduct cropfield trials in Southern Ontario, or learning how to isolate a new gene of agronomic importance, or even trying to figure out how to grow food during space voyages to the planet Mars, the Department of Plant Agriculture offers an incredible range of training opportunities. With almost 50 faculty research programs, the Department offers a broad range of specialties. These research specialties include:
Food Safety Science and Policy
Fruit and Vegetable Production
Greenhouse and Closed Environmental Systems Science and Management
Medicinal Plant Biology
Molecular Marker-Assisted Selection
New Products from Soybeans
Plant Cell Biology
Plant Intellectual Property Rights
Plant Tissue Culture
Research in Abiotic and Biotic Stress Tolerance
Research in Plant Primary and Secondary Metabolism
Tree Fruit Science and Management
Turfgrass Science and Management
Vaccine Production in Plants
Researchers in the Department of Plant Agriculture work on a variety of plant species including corn, wheat, barley, soybeans, Canola, alfalfa and other forage species, asparagus, carrots, tomatoes, berries, grapes, a variety of fruits and vegetable crops, medicinal plants, weeds and Arabidopsis thaliana, a research model species.
Our Grad Students Win External Awards
Each year, graduate students in the Department of Plant Agriculture receive a variety of prestigious awards at research conferences, from scientific societies and from national granting agencies. These awards are a testament to the high quality of innovative research conducted by graduate students in the department. Most of these awards are listed in the departmental newsletter published quarterly. Here is just a small sample of recent awards won by our graduate students:
- In 2001, Dan MacLean received first prize for Outstanding Poster Presentation at the 98th International Conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science (Sacramento, California).
- In 2001, Sean Westerveld won the "Best Student Poster" award at the 2001 annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science.
- Ph.D. student Justine Vanden Heuval won the Educational Foundation Award from the American Wine Society in 1999, the first time this has been awarded outside of the U.S., as well as the Best Student Paper award in viticulture from the American Society for Viticulture and Enology.
- M.Sc. student Wendy Shearer was awarded a Presidents Scholarshipfrom the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
- In 2001, M.Sc. student Dan McLean won Best Graduate Student Poster award at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Horticulture in Sacramento, California, while graduate student Cindy Campeau won second prize for her work on Ginseng pathogens.
- Ph.D. students Heather Shearer and Jeremy Friedberg were recently awarded NSERC Post-Graduate Scholarships from the Canadian Government.
- M.Sc. student Grant Woronuk was recently awarded an NSERC Industrial Post-Graduate Scholarshipin collaboration with DowAgroSciences.
- Graduate student Valerio Primomo won the first prize in the graduate student category of the Project SOY competition, in both 1998 and 1999. In 1998, he won it with his invention of a healthy, soybean-based frozen dessert drink creation called SoYummy, whereas in 1999, he won it with his "Soylight" soybean candles.
Plant Agriculture Graduate Students and Fellows go on to Establish Meaningful Careers
Former graduate students and post-doctoral research fellows from the Department of Plant Agriculture (and its merged departments) have gone on to establish exciting research careers in academia, government agencies and the private sector in Canada and throughout the world. For example, our alumni include Richard Mallya, the Former Minister of Agriculture for Tanzania. Former students and fellows have received faculty positions around the world including at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Nebraska, McGill University, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Guelph, the University of Waterloo, Trinity Western University (British Columbia), the Nova Scotia College of Agricultural Technology, St. Marys University (Halifax, Nova Scotia), the University of Singapore, the University of Peshawar (Pakistan), the University of Queensland (Australia), and Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (Hyderabad, India).
A survey of our most recent students has shown that they are now pursuing pursuing Ph.D. or post-doctoral studies at a number of institutions in the United States and Canada including at Cornell University, the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Purdue University, the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan.
Our former students and fellows are employed as public sector agricultural scientists around the world, helping to increase food production, add value to plants, advance basic and applied science, make the environment better and helpfarmers. Our alumni hold positions at the University of California, the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service (New York), the University of Iowa, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico City, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Cameroon, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Pulpand Paper Research Institute (Vancouver), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Wheat Board, the Soybean Growers Association of Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture, the Groundwater NSERC Centre of Excellence at the University of Waterloo, Queens University, IAPAR (Parana State, Brazil), EMBRAPA (Brazil), and the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture.
Because of the unique skills they gain while at the University of Guelph, our former students and fellows are also in demand in the private sector around the world. Former graduates now hold positions at a variety of companies including Pioneer HiBred/Dupont (Iowa, Kansas, Ontario), Perkin-Elmer (Davis, California), Connaught Laboratories (Toronto), Millipore, Bick Pickles, Garst Seeds (Iowa), Mycogen (U.S.), DowAgroSciences, Peto Seeds (California), BiOringinals Inc. (Saskatoon), Syngenta (Raleigh, North Carolina), Monsanto (St. Louis, Missouri), Stewart Seeds (Indiana/Ohio) and CropLife Canada.
We Have Modern Facilities and Equipment and Extensive Growth Space
Students and researchers in the Department of Plant Agriculture are uniquely able to conduct research at a variety of field research stations throughout Ontario, to test field crops, fruits and vegetables under a variety of soils and micro-climates. At each of our campuses, there are dozens of contained plant growth chambers and greenhouses, including a new $1.3 million automated high light transgenic greenhouse facility at the Guelph campus completed in 2002.
|Photo courtesy of Geoff Waters.||New greenhouse facility.|
With millions of dollars in recent grants from the Canadian Foundation of Innovation, NSERC, the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund and a number of other agencies, the department boasts a variety of state-of-the-art equipment including:
- 96-well robotic liquid handling equipment
- Controlled gas exchange growth chambers
- DNA capillary sequencer
- Field equipment including tractors and planters
- Fluorescence-activated cell sorter
- Fluorescence and luminescence video imaging facilities
- Fluorescence microscopes
- Gas-Chromatography Mass Spectrophotometers (GC-Mass Spec)
- Gas-exchange analytical equipment
- Gradient PCR machines
- Helium particle bombardment devices for plant transformation
- High-throughput luminometer and spectrophotometers
- HPLC/FPLC for analytical chemistry and protein purification
- Leaf surface area and yield analysis equipment
- Liquid-Chromatography Mass Spectrophotometer
- Microarray gene chipreader
- Molecular biology equipment
- Seed dryers
- Seed storage facilties
- Tissue freeze dryers
Plant Agriculture students and researchers also have access to other equipment located on the Guelph campus including DNA synthesizers for oligonucleotide synthesis, a gene chipmicroarrayer, a confocal microscope, SEM/EM facilities, MALDI-TOF and a variety of analytical chemistry equipment.
The Department of Plant Agriculture Hosts a Dynamic Seminar Series
As part of our mission to train future scientists, the Department of Plant Agriculture has decided it is important to invite world-class scientists to speak to our students and scientists. In recent years, seminar speakers have included Patrick Schnable (Iowa State University), David Jackson (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, New York), Jian-Kang Zhu (University of Arizona), Sue Rhee (Carnegie Institution/Stanford University), Charlie Boone (Banting and Best Medical Institute), Surinder Chopra (Penn State University), Peter McCourt (University of Toronto) and Yuki Mizukami (University of California, Berkeley). Graduate students are given the opportunity to have lunch or dinner with our speakers and even host them on tourist excursions to Niagara Falls and Toronto. Such events expose our students to the best researchers in the world, offering them future opportunities after they graduate from Guelph. In addition, the Department of Plant Agriculture also hosts an internal grad seminar series, an undergraduate research seminar series and a Plant Molecular Biology and Genetics journal club that meets weekly during the academic school year.
The Department of Plant Agriculture: An Exciting Place for Research and Training
Our track record demonstrates that the Department of Plant Agriculture is a place of academic excellence, bridging basic and applied research, academia, public sector laboratories, growers and industry. Our influence is felt on every continent as our alumni make a positive influence throughout the world. Agricultural varieties developed by the Department of Plant Agriculture are grown on farmers fields throughout Ontario and the rest of North America. Our commitment to train current and future students and research fellows will continue as the Department has recently hired several new Assistant Professors and will be recruiting new faculty in the coming years. Combined with the acquisition of new equipment and facilities and the creation of new courses and innovative programs, the Department of Plant Agriculture is an exciting place for research and scientific training. If you are a prospective undergraduate, prospective graduate student or post-doctoral fellow, we invite you to browse the online research pages of individual Faculty and Research Scientists and then to contact individual faculty and staff directly.