I joined the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph in 2002. I received my undergraduate degree in Anthropology from Wilfrid Laurier University and my M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Toronto. I spent two years at Dalhousie University as a...
Who likes going to the dentist? University of Guelph researchers are studying dogs’ mouths for bacteria that might play a role in periodontal disease, which affects an estimated eight out of 10 dogs by four years of age.
“We are learning about the kinds of bacteria in dogs’ mouths in order to help avoid dental and oral diseases,” said pathobiology graduate student Amy Sturgeon, lead author on a recent paper on the topic. “We also hope to improve our understanding of how these bacteria may cause problems for people through direct contact.”
Led by Scott Weese, a pathobiology professor in U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College, the research team aimed to learn how many kinds of bacteria live in dogs’ mouths and potential health implications both for dogs and for humans. They found more kinds of bacteria than in previous studies, thanks partly to their study method.
Weese explained: “Investigating the types and roles of the bacteria in dogs’ mouths is usually limited to cloning-based sequencing and conventional culture-based studies. We’ve known these weren’t great, but until recently we didn’t have any other options. Now we’re able to take advantage of recent advances in next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics to truly investigate complex bacterial populations like those in the dog’s mouth. We didn’t grow the bacteria in petri dishes, but extracted DNA, identified the sequences and compared them with existing bacteria DNA databases.”
By examining the DNA of oral bacteria from six healthy dogs, the researchers found that the oral population is highly complex, rivalling intestinal bacteria in diversity.
“We expected to find a number of bacterial species,” said Sturgeon. “But we were surprised at how complex and diverse the range of species was and at how many bacterial species were identified.”
The animals were clinically healthy, were fed commercial diets without raw or unpasteurized meat or milk products, and had undergone no dental cleaning, surgery, general anesthesia or antibiotic treatments within the preceding three months.
“Our results support the concept of a group of bacteria common to the oral cavity among all dogs,” said Sturgeon. “These core bacteria are probably the most important ones: species that have evolved and adapted to live with dogs. However, this core population also contained bacteria known to cause dental disease and serious infections in humans. That wasn’t surprising. We know that the mouth harbours a wide range of bacteria that can cause disease, given the right circumstances.”
The most common bacteria found were a type that is frequently involved in gingivitis. The second most abundant kind commonly causes human dental plaque.
The next step is to understand how the oral microflora influence disease, for better prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
“Hopefully, as we learn more about the prevalence of different bacteria in dogs’ mouths, we will be able to develop new ways to combat periodontal disease,” Sturgeon said. “This will go a long way towards helping our pets live happy, prolonged lives.”
The paper is available online in Veterinary Microbiology.
Prof. Scott Weese
Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses
University of Guelph
519-824-4120, Ext. 54064
Creating more intelligent computers, understanding how fish can live out of water, and improving learning and memory are among University of Guelph projects to benefit from an $8.6-million investment from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
The awards were announced in Ottawa by Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology. Across Canada, the government will invest $414 million to support 3,808 research projects in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Today’s announcement includes the 2013 competition results for NSERC programs, including Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements, and graduate and post-doctoral awards. Most research projects are supported for five years.
Guelph’s 50-odd projects span five colleges and numerous departments. U of G also received 34 graduate scholarships and a post-doctoral fellowship.
"These awards provide our researchers with the equipment, technology and other resources they need to leverage their innovations into new knowledge and practical applications,” said Kevin Hall, vice-president (research).
“One of Guelph’s strengths is our leadership and dedication in supporting research that has tangible impacts.”
Engineering professor Graham Taylor received an $118,258 Discovery Grant to study “deep learning,” or computer methods that mimic the human brain’s activity. Computers learn to recognize patterns in digital representations of sounds, images and other information, and make decisions based on the processed data.
“It's amazing to be working in the field amid all this excitement about artificial intelligence,” said Taylor, who joined the U of G faculty in June 2012 and had received NSERC support as a graduate student.
“Deep learning especially has received a great deal of attention in the media lately for its success at some of the most influential high-tech companies, such as Google, Apple and Microsoft,” he said.
“Everyone's generating data. Everyone wants to do more with their data. So over the next few years, I hope to collaborate with many different researchers here and tackle more problems with deep learning.”
He called the NSERC grant critical to his research and for attracting and training data engineers “who can satiate the growing demand for highly qualified personnel with deep analytical skills.”
Integrative biology professor Patricia Wright received two grants worth a total of $122,000 to study how animals handle environmental changes. She studies how and why fish and other aquatic animals live in varying oxygen concentration, salinity and temperature, and even changing water availability.
Learning how the brain puts together information from our senses is the purpose of two grants worth a total of $67,000 for psychology professor Boyer Winters. He studies the neurobiology of learning and memory, using rodent models of human memory dysfunction.
“A better understanding of the basic mechanisms involved in this complex function will speak to various aspects of human cognition, such as learning, memory and attention, and may prove fruitful in guiding therapeutic strategies for human cognitive disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease,” Winters said.
Anthony Clarke, assistant vice-president (graduate studies and program quality assurance) and a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, said he is “delighted” with his one-year $62,200 grant. Using a planned high-pressure liquid chromatography system, Clarke and other campus researchers will study sugars to improve production of cellulosic ethanol and crop plants and to find new targets for antibiotics.
Paul Martin, Canada’s 21st prime minister, a global diplomat and an advocate for aboriginal issues, will receive the Lincoln Alexander Outstanding Leader Award May 29 from the University of Guelph.
Presented annually by Guelph’s College of Management and Economics (CME), the award recognizes exemplary and dedicated Canadian leaders whose careers have included groundbreaking, socially significant pursuits.
U of G’s highest leadership award was created in 2006 to honour the late Lincoln Alexander, who served as Guelph’s chancellor for an unprecedented 15 years.
Past recipients include Louise Arbour, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; Rick Hillier, retired Canadian general and former chief of the defence staff of the Canadian Forces; and Frank McKenna, former New Brunswick premier and Canadian ambassador to the United States.
This year’s award recognizes Martin’s leadership, his dedication to aboriginal issues and reform, and his national and global outreach work.
"I am delighted to recognize Paul Martin for his courageous and inspirational leadership, especially in indigenous issues,” said Julia Christensen Hughes, dean of CME.
“Not only has Mr. Martin kept the spotlight on the treatment of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada's residential school system, but he has also advocated for and supported entrepreneurial skill development opportunities for aboriginal youth."
Martin will take part in a question-and-answer session after a dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Cutten Fields.
After succeeding Jean Chrétien as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Martin became prime minister on Dec. 12, 2003, and served until 2006. Known as an exceptional leader, he lowered taxes and increased funding for education and research. He worked to improve the health-care system and established a national early learning and child-care program.
Under his leadership, the Canadian government approved the historic Kelowna Accord, which sought to eliminate gaps between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. He continues to advocate for educational reform through the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative.
As minister of finance from 1993 to 2002, he helped eliminate the country’s fiscal deficit by reforming programs including social services.
He served as the Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Émard in Montreal from 1988 to 2008.
Martin has advised the International Monetary Fund and the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa, and chairs the Congo Basin Forest Fund, which addresses poverty in 10 African nations.
The selection committee for the University of Guelph’s eighth president and vice-chancellor is seeking input and advice from the University community. The committee is hosting a drop-in session Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the library’s Academic Town Square.
Throughout April and early May, the committee has been gathering input from members of the University community as part of the process of developing the mandate and position profile for the University's next president and vice-chancellor.
Members of the University community are invited to meet with members of the committee May 24 to offer their perspectives and feedback in response to a draft profile, which will be posted on the Presidential Search website in advance of the drop-in session.
Input is also welcome through the committee’s confidential email, (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Members of the presidential selection committee are Board of Governors chair Dick Freeborough, chair of the presidential selection committee; Anita Acai, fourth-year B.Sc. co-op student; Graham Badun, a member of the Board of Governors; Prof. Julia Christensen Hughes, dean of the College of Management and Economics; Prof. Cate Dewey, chair of the Department of Population Medicine; Linda Hawkins, director of the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences; Lisa Kellenberger, a PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Sciences; Virginia McLaughlin, Board of Governors vice-chair and chair of the board’s governance committee; Brad Rooney, president of the University of Guelph Alumni Association; and Prof. Byron Sheldrick, chair of the Department of Political Science.
The group will recommend a presidential candidate to the Board of Governors. Under the University of Guelph Act, the board is responsible for appointing a president.
The new president is expected to be in place by summer 2014, when Alastair Summerlee’s second term will end.
The University of Guelph will introduce its third improviser-in-residence, Rich Marsella, during a public event downtown May 25.
Marsella will perform at Musagetes, 6 Dublin St. S., Ste. 103, from 7 to 9 p.m., with Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People.
His three-month sojourn on campus is sponsored by U of G’s Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (ICASP) and by Musagetes, a Guelph-based organization fostering community and culture through art.
ICASP is a seven-year-old collaborative research project on musical improvisation as a model for social change, funded mostly by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
It’s headed by Ajay Heble, a professor in U of G’s School of English and Theatre Studies and artistic director and founder of the award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival. He said Marsella has “a solid reputation for working directly with the community through music impact projects.
“Having Marsella work with the project strengthens our commitment to diverse musical multiplicity and collaboration through the promotion of improvisation and dynamic exchange with the cultural, communal and creative community of Guelph and beyond.”
Marsella, known as Friendly Rich, is a composer and avant-garde musician from Brampton, Ont. Known for his eclectic style, he has composed and produced nine albums and been featured on CBC Radio, MuchMusic, and MTV’s The Tom Green Show.
He runs a record label called The Pumpkin Pie Corp., and records and tours with his ensemble, The Lollipop People, especially in Europe.
Marsella is the founder and director of the Brampton Indie Arts Festival, and director of the Regent Park School of Music.
For his master’s degree in music at the University of Toronto, he studied instrument construction and parade pedagogy.
At U of G, Marsella will work with local groups and musicians, and will run workshops and ensemble performances to promote community-building and diversity through improvisation.
“It’s a chance to connect with Guelph in a way that I’ve always dreamed of,” Marsella said. “There’s something special in Guelph, and I want to tap into it and celebrate it with this project.”
He plans to study Russian composers during his residency.
He will hold monthly concerts at Silence, 46 Essex St., and a Halloween concert on campus, and will perform at the Guelph Jazz Festival, Sept. 7 at noon, at St. George’s Church.
Previous improvisers-in-residence at U of G were Jane Bunnett, Miya Masaoka, Scott Thomson and Susanna Hood.
A University of Guelph PhD candidate has received a Trudeau Scholarship, the most prestigious doctoral award in Canada. Geography student Chiara Camponeschi won the $60,000 scholarship from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation to study urban governance and environment. She is one of 14 Trudeau scholars named this year.
“This is a wonderful achievement for Chiara,” said president Alastair Summerlee. “It’s a tribute to her academic and research success, and to her dedication to helping change lives and improve life through participatory governance. It also recognizes the support and commitment of her mentors in the Department of Geography and the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.”
Along with her adviser, geography professor Ben Bradshaw, Camponeschi studies urban sustainability and participatory governance, especially how cities and their residents adapt to climate change.
“I am delighted and honoured to be receiving this prestigious award, and I am looking forward to learning from this incredible community,” Camponeschi said.
“The scholarship will enable me to continue my research, to make valuable connections with thought leaders in the field, and to learn about best practices in innovative resilience planning in Canada and abroad.”
Begun in 2003, the Trudeau Scholarships support up to 15 doctoral candidates studying human rights and dignity, responsible citizenship, Canada and the world, and humans and their natural environment.
Besides receiving the three-year, $60,000 stipend, scholars interact regularly with other recipients and mentors, as well as academic and non-academic leaders.
“This cohort of scholars consists of the best minds in the best institutions studying critical and complex issues for Canadians and the world,” said P.G. Forest, president of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.
Originally from Rome, Camponeschi has worked with international organizations from grassroots groups to the United Nations. She was selected as Italy’s only Oxfam Action Partner for 2010-2013, and was recognized as a Young Agent of Change by Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation in 2011.
She completed a BA in political science and communications studies and a master’s degree in environmental studies at York University.
Two Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) professors are quoted in a Toronto Star story today on the increasing popularity of bengal and savannah cats, a genetic mixture of domestic and wild animals.
Gabriela Mastromonaco, curator of reproduction programs and research at the Toronto Zoo and an adjunct professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, discussed the crossover genetics involved in wild-domestic mixing and possible concerns. Cathy Gartley, a reproductive specialist and professor in OVC’s Department of Population Medicine, says humans have been living with wild cats as pets since civilization’s dawn, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea.
An opinion piece by Donna Lero was published Sunday in the Toronto Star. The article, which appeared on Mother’s Day, looked at how and why mothers are still doing less paid work than fathers.
Lero, a professor in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, studies parental- and family-leave policies, workplace support for families and family care services, including child and elderly care services. She has held the Jarislowsky Chair in Families and Work since its inception in 2003. The chair is housed in U of G’s Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being.
A column by Dave Scott-Thomas, head coach of the University of Guelph’s track and field and cross-country teams and the Speed River Track and Field Club, appeared in the Globe and Mail this past weekend.
In the column, Scott-Thomas discusses ways to reboot your spring running routine. He has written a regular running column in the Globe and Mail since 2011. He is one of Canada's most decorated coaches, with 24 national Coach of the Year titles, and has coached more than 30 national team athletes, including five Olympians.
Environmental Sciences professor Rebecca Hallett was featured on CBC’s online news page May 9. A smart phone application she helped develop is part of a story on new technology in farming.
Hallett developed the app with Tracey Baute, a field crop entomologist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and a U of G graduate, and Christie Bahlai, a U of G grad student in environmental biology. Read more
For the second year in a row, a women’s rugby player at the University of Guelph has been named the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) female Athlete of the Year. Britt Benn received the honour at the 2013 OUA awards banquet Thursday night in Gravenhurst, Ont.
Benn, a fifth-year student from Napanee, Ont., was also a finalist for the prestigious Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Athlete of the Year award this season. She was the fifth University of Guelph athlete to be nominated for the CIS honour.
She shared U of G’s female Athlete of the Year award in 2013.
Jacey Murphy, another women’s rugby Gryphon, received the OUA award in 2012. Male OUA Athlete of the Year for 2013 was Kyle Quinlan, quarterback with McMaster University’s football team.
Benn ends her varsity career with five selections as an OUA all-star, four OUA scoring titles and four all-Canadian nods.
In 2008 she was named the OUA Russell division Rookie of the Year. Since then, she has led Guelph to the podium in four trips to the CIS championships, including three bronze medals and one gold.
This year, Benn helped lead the team to a 6-0 record in league play, its fifth consecutive OUA title and a CIS championship silver medal.
In 2013, she was named CIS Player of the Year, CIS all-Canadian, CIS tournament all-star, OUA MVP, OUA all-star and the Gryphon team MVP. She led the conference in scoring with 80 points on 16 tries, eight more than the next highest player.
Environmental Sciences professor Rebecca Hallett is featured today on CBC’s online news page. A smart phone application she helped developed is part of a story on new technology helping the farming industry.
Farmers can use the app — Aphid Advisor — to decide whether or not to use insecticide to control aphids on soybeans, based on numbers of aphids and their natural enemies.
Hallett developed the app with Tracey Baute, a field crop entomologist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and a U of G graduate, and Christie Bahlai, a U of G grad student in environmental biology. It’s based on research conducted in the School of Environmental Sciences and the Department of Plant Agriculture. Read more
Novel ways of treating bacterial diseases such as meningitis and some bloodstream infections may one day result from a new discovery by University of Guelph microbiologists.
Uncovering a key piece of bacterial machinery that helps pathogens don a surface coat to outwit the body’s natural immunity might give physicians a new way to treat microbes causing serious illness and even death, said Lisa Willis, a PhD student in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB).
“It would be a new kind of antibiotic,” said Willis, lead author of a new paper published online last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Her co-authors are her adviser -- MCB chair Prof. Chris Whitfield -- and scientists at the National Research Council of Canada and the University of Alberta.
Willis said the team’s discovery promises a way to disrupt the protective surface coat of virulent bacteria. That would allow the body’s immune system to remove the pathogen normally.
“The bacteria can survive fine without this virulence factor in the lab – they just can’t cause disease,” she said.
The researchers cautioned that it may take years to develop treatments. Said Whitfield, “This identifies a good target for therapeutics, but drug discovery is a long process, followed by clinical trials of any new antibiotic.”
Using viruses that attack bacteria, Willis isolated and identified a critical component on the surface of many bacterial cells. Those microbes include pathogens causing meningitis and infections of the bloodstream and urinary tract in people, as well as bacteria that cause various livestock diseases.
Because the molecule is found in bacteria but not in humans, drug companies might target treatments without harming human cells, said Willis.
The researchers looked at enzymes needed to make the cell surface component, which is part of a larger sugar molecule.
“Without these enzymes, the cell can’t make these complex sugars and can’t assemble the surface coat,” said Whitfield. “If you’re able to target the initial enzyme, you turn the entire process off.”
Finding such a crucial target may help combat drug-resistant bacteria, he said. “This step is essential for these bacteria to cause disease. There is no secondary route that we know of that might fill the gap.”
This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and by Whitfield’s Canada Research Chair in Molecular Microbiology.
Two University of Guelph football players were selected to play in the Canadian Football League during Monday’s 2013 CFL draft.
Jake Piotrowski and Cameron Thorn will play for the Montreal Alouettes and the B.C. Lions, respectively.
Piotrowski, a 6-foot-5, 293-pound offensive lineman, was selected 41st overall in the fifth round. Originally from Shanty Bay, Ont., he spent the 2012 season recovering from shoulder surgery. During the 2011 season, Piotrowski was named lineman of the year, playing in seven of eight games for the Gryphons. In 2012, he played in the East West Bowl at Western University.
Thorn, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive lineman from Midhurst, Ont., was selected 58th overall in the seventh round. This past season, he played in eight regular-season games for the Gryphons and was involved in 19 tackles (14 solo, 10 assisted). He also recorded a sack for 11 yards and one breakup. Thorn also played in the 2012 East West Bowl.
Two new donations worth $700,000 will help a new University of Guelph institute tackle the world’s most important food issues through research, innovation and action.
The donations from Longo Brothers Fruit Markets and Darcy and Cathy Rector will support the U of G Food Institute. The gifts were made through the BetterPlanet Project, the University’s $200-million fundraising campaign for teaching and research in food, environment, health and communities.
“We are grateful for these critical foundational and leadership gifts,” said president Alastair Summerlee.
“They will allow Guelph experts from across the disciplines to engage with other bright minds worldwide in addressing our global food challenges.”
Besides being a powerful economic force and cultural symbol, food affects environmental sustainability and consumer health, Summerlee said.
Spanning all seven colleges at U of G, the Food Institute is believed to be the first such group addressing global issues in all aspects of food production, safety and security, as well as the impact of food on culture, economies and the environment.
The new institute will help the University to share its strengths in food education and research with food producers and processors, consumers, non-governmental organizations and other partners locally, nationally and internationally. It will involve faculty experts across campus as well as undergraduate and graduate students.
Longo’s $500,000 gift will establish the Longo’s Food Retail Innovation Fund and help create a research team to study grocery retailing and food service, technology, and health and wellness. The fund will be overseen by the College of Management and Economics.
"This unique opportunity to support new innovation in the food and grocery retail industry is very much in line with our own values of food, family, health and community,” said Anthony Longo of Longo Brother’s Fruit Markets Inc.
“We are very excited to be able to establish this new fund to support the new Food Institute, Guelph’s students, and, ultimately, the betterment of our communities."
A $200,000 contribution from Darcy and Cathy Rector is the first private gift to the Food Institute’s Founder’s Fund.
Darcy Rector is a successful food industry entrepreneur and an “ambassador” for Canadian food production and handling. He founded Rector Foods in Brampton, Ont., in 1978 before selling the company to Kerry (Canada) Inc.
“Cathy and I are excited to be part of a concept with the potential to realize a strong positive impact on our students as well as the Canadian food industry,” he said.
“The Food Institute represents a new way of looking at things – of sharing and collaboration, co-operation and problem-solving between the best minds in science, business and other vantage points.”
The Food Institute will include an international advisory panel to be led by Rob Gordon, dean of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College.
Its scientific director will be food science professor Rickey Yada, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Food Protein Structure and former scientific director of the Advanced Foods and Materials Network, previously based at U of G.
A business plan under development for the new institute will reflect fiscal challenges facing the University and the higher education system, said Rene Van Acker, OAC’s associate dean (external relations). “It’s important that we establish the institute with a sustainable business plan. It’s intended for the long term.”
Ken McEwan has been named director of the University of Guelph – Ridgetown Campus. McEwan’s five-year term began May 1.
The announcement was made today by Rob Gordon, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College. “I am extremely excited, as is the entire Ridgetown Campus community, by Ken’s vision and commitment to excellence for the Ridgetown Campus,” said Gordon.
“It has certainly been a pleasure to work closely with Ken in his interim role over the past 16 months, and I look forward to his leadership as director.”
McEwan has been acting interim director since Jan. 1, 2012. Earlier, he was research co-ordinator at Ridgetown.
As Ridgetown’s tenth director, he will oversee 120 faculty and staff and an annual budget worth more than $18.5 million.
McEwan joined the Campus in 1990 as a college professor in production economics and agribusiness, and is an adjunct professor in U of G’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics.
“Ken is a well-respected leader in the Ontario agriculture industry, and has clearly demonstrated ability in partnering with government and industry to enhance our important sector,” said Gordon.
Known as a strategic innovator, McEwan conducts applied research in agricultural economics and policy. He completed a master’s degree in agricultural economics and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the University of Guelph. He is a professional member of American and Canadian agricultural economics associations.
“I look forward to working with all our community stakeholders in this special leadership position,” McEwan said. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with such dedicated educators and research scientists to advance Ridgetown Campus’s applied mandate that is so valued by our many industry partners, clients and alumni.”
McEwan succeeds Art Schaafsma, who served as director from 2007 to 2011. Schaafsma teaches and studies integrated pest management, and manages Ridgetown’s Centre for Agricultural Renewable Energy and Sustainability.
Five University of Guelph representatives received honours from the 18th annual Women of Distinction Awards Thursday night.
The awards were presented by the YMCA-YWCA to Guelph women who are inspirational leaders. U of G's Food Laureate, Anita Stewart, acted as the Honorary Chair of the event.
This year's recipients are Gayleen Gray, director of IT strategy and partnerships in Computing and Communication Services; Linda Hawkins, director of the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES); Lynda Slater, an education specialist in the Centre for Students with Disabilities; Shawna Smith, a U of G student and former director of Student Volunteer Connections; and Julie Yager, a professor emerita in the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).
They were among 39 women nominated for achievements in nine categories: arts and culture; business and entrepreneur; education and training; health, wellness and recreation; public sector; science and research; voluntary community services; information and technology; trades; young woman of distinction; and the Turning Point Award.
Gray, who is also the staff representative on U of G’s Board of Governors and University Senate, received the information and technology award for helping developing information technology policies and solutions. She volunteers for Action Read and the Guelph Humane Society.
Hawkins received the science, technology and research award for co-founding and directing ICES, and for serving as executive director of U of G’s Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being. She has served with World Vision International and Rural Women Making Change.
Yager was recognized for lifetime achievement in science, technology and research. As one of only seven women in her graduating class, she has been a role model and inspiration to women entering veterinary medicine. She was a professor in OVC’s Department of Pathobiology for more than 25 years. Her world-renowned research in veterinary pathology has been published in more than 100 books and research publications.
The voluntary community services award went to Slater for her work with adults and students with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, anxiety and depression. As a volunteer and leader with Habitat for Humanity, she chairs the women’s building committee, which raises money for housing.
Smith received the young woman of distinction award for outstanding scholastic achievements, leadership and community involvement. At U of G, she served as director of Student Volunteer Connections, organized the Do So Much Weekend conference, served on the U of G committee of World University Service of Canada, and organized a student challenge to raise money for refugees.
From farmers’ markets to community gardens, everything you might want to know about local food projects across Ontario is served up in a first-ever report co-authored by University of Guelph experts.
The report, released in late April, is intended to help community members develop local sustainable food systems, said Prof. Karen Landman, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development.
“Issues of human and environmental health, and vulnerability of the industrial food system, have prompted numerous alternative food initiatives around the globe and across Ontario,” says the report.
It was published in late April on the Nourishing Ontario website.
Called “Models and Best Practices for Building Sustainable Food Systems in Ontario and Beyond,” the report describes food initiatives in communities across the province, including farmers’ markets, on-farm stores and urban farms.
The study discusses local food systems, including economic, environmental and social factors involved in food production and consumption, and how they help to strengthen communities.
“As you tug on food, you pull everything with it,” said Landman, who co-wrote the report’s chapter on southwestern Ontario.
The new project began two years ago. Researchers conducted about 170 interviews across Ontario and discussed 20 case studies, including the Waterloo Region Neighbourhood Market Initiative.
The team’s lead author was Alison Blay-Palmer, a professor in geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. Referring to academic and community groups across Canada and even around the world, she said, “Everybody is trying to figure out how to improve the food system.
“Our goal for this report is to support communities across the globe that want to have access to more local sustainable food.”
Launched in 2007, Nourishing Ontario brings together researchers at Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier, Lakehead University, Carleton University, Ryerson University, York University and the University of Toronto, as well as Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia.
The group has also developed a community toolkit, run local conferences and workshops, and contributed to a themed issue of the Local Environment journal.
The group has completed a number of community food projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
Earlier, Landman and Blay-Palmer worked together on projects in local food systems and sustainable rural communities.
Landman and other Guelph researchers studying local food systems have contributed to the official plan for the City of Guelph and to the Local Food Act tabled earlier this year at Queen’s Park by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is also the province’s agriculture minister.
A new car share program in Guelph could benefit the University of Guelph community and the entire city, say the program’s proponents.
The Community CarShare program, a co-op that allows people to rent cars for minimal cost, began May 2 in Guelph, with an official launch scheduled next week. Four cars will be parked in reserved spots on campus. The parking spaces will be the University’s only contribution to the program.
Participants will pay a yearly registration fee. They can then rent a car online for an hourly cost for insurance and gas. The program is open to licensed drivers 21 and older.
Ian Weir, manager of Parking Services and Transportation Planning, says the program could help reduce the number of cars on campus while offering people more transportation flexibility.
“We had looked into it in years past, but the cost was too high until now,” said Weir. “We’re trying to get people out of cars. It saves them the cost of owning their own car, reduces congestion, is cheaper and easier than renting from an agency, and, if it proves successful, could potentially reduce the need for us to build more parking lots. It can be used for everything from shopping trips to visiting family and friends out of town, and for much more.”
The cars – all five-passenger automatics -- will be parked in dedicated spots on campus (lots P31 on South Ring Rd. and P23 on CollegeAve.) and will be available to anyone who registers with the co-op, said Maurice Nelischer, U of G’s Director for Sustainability. The City of Guelph will also reserve spots downtown.
If demand increases, the co-op plans to purchase more vehicles.
“This is open to anyone who needs to use a car, whether for a couple hours to get groceries, or for a full day,” Nelischer said. “We do expect that there will be a demand for using the car from students, faculty and staff. The car share program is huge in bigger cities such as Toronto, but it has also worked successfully in smaller cities such as Kitchener, Waterloo, Hamilton and Cambridge.”
Vehicles may be reserved on the spot using smart phones, and a member’s card allows access immediately.
“This is an extremely convenient and efficient way for people to have the convenience they need in owning a car without having to buy one, with the benefits of lower costs and helping the environment,” said Nelischer. “We expect to see more and more people making use of this service, and it will lead some people to think about whether they need to bring a car onto campus.”
Three University of Guelph professors made national headlines this week.
An opinion piece by economics professor Ross McKitrick was published today in the National Post.The column focuses on a study McKitrick conducted on Ontario’s Green Energy Act with Kenneth Green. Both men are fellows of the Fraser Institute, an independent public policy organization. The study says that the Green Energy Act is driving up Ontario’s energy costs and poses a threat to economic competitiveness for the manufacturing and mining sectors.
A faculty member at Guelph since 1996, McKitrick specializes in the economics of environmental policy and has been studying climate change and related policy issues for about 10 years. He has given presentations on climate and environmental policy to the Canadian and U.S. governments. McKitrick has served as an environmental policy consultant for the Fraser Institute since 2002.
Food science professor Keith Warriner was featured in a CTV national news story Tuesday on the Canadian beef industry’s plans to seek federal approval to use irradiation in meat-processing plants to kill dangerous E. coli bacteria.
Warriner, a U of G microbiologist, is a sought-after food-safety expert. Among other things, he and his research team have developed decontamination methods to improve food safety and tested the effectiveness of a sanitizing system aimed at neutralizing bacteria on food and surfaces.
Integrative biology professor Andrew McAdam was on CBC Radio’s popular program Quirks and Quarks April 27. Hosted by Bob McDonald, Quirks and Quarks is an award-winning radio science program heard by a national audience of nearly 500,000 people in Canada and thousands more across the globe through a podcast
McAdam was discussing a new study he worked on that found stressed-out squirrel mothers raise stronger, heartier offspring. He conducted the study with Guelph biology professor Amy Newman and lead author Ben Dantzer. McAdam, an evolutionary ecologist, is interested in the ecological mechanisms of short-term evolutionary change in natural populations.
A University of Guelph study on how substrate pH affects a popular plant in “green roofs” is already proving a boon to local growers and green roof plant suppliers.
The study, “Optimal Growing Substrate pH for Five Sedum Species,” was published recently in the agricultural journal HortScience.
In the study, researchers led by Prof. Youbin Zheng and research associate Mary Jane Clark, School of Environmental Sciences, looked at the effect of varying growing substrate acidity on sedums. This plant is a favourite for rooftop green space, as it withstands winter conditions and drought.
The market for rooftop plants in North America has exploded recently, as more buildings recognize their environmental benefits.
The team found optimal pH ranges for Sedum plants. Sedum plants within these ranges can grow many times faster than those grown out of these ranges. This is the first research to provide optimum growing substrate pH levels in order for growers to efficiently and rapidly produce good quality Sedum plants to meet the demand in many horticultural applications, including green roof plantings.
“Manufacturers had always followed the example of European manufacturers, who had gone with a pH level that was more alkaline,” explained Zheng. “But they found the plants weren’t growing fast enough. In our studies, we found the plants did not grow at that level as well as they would at a slightly lower level. But going too low with pH and making the substrate too acidic was also a problem. So we had to find the best levels for these plants to thrive.”
Industry partners Sedum Master and LiveRoof have used the study results in their facilities, said Zheng. Both companies helped fund the study.
“These plants are widely used in Europe, and there is more demand for green roofs in North America now,” he said. “In North America, installed rooftop areas had doubled from 2010 to 2011. Manufacturers were having difficulty making enough of the sedum to satisfy the demand. In most cases, orders would have to be placed months to a year in advance.”
Green roofs can help manage stormwater runoff, and they can help cool buildings in summer, reducing hydro costs substantially. Some municipalities have enacted bylaws, including Toronto in 2009, requiring green roofs on new developments.
“With the results of this study, manufacturers can produce sedum much faster,” said Zheng. “They don’t need as much lead time, and it saves labour, time and land space. As the need for green roofs increases, the market will grow, leading to more jobs and a thriving industry.”
For more information:
Prof. Youbin Zheng
Tel: 519 824 4120X52741
University of Guelph researchers tackling one of the largest challenges in plant genetics received $220,000 today from Genome Canada.
A team led by Prof. Lewis Lukens, Department of Plant Agriculture, and Prof. Cortland Griswold, Department of Integrative Biology, will use bioinformatics tools to understand how organisms that are well adapted to their environments can be selected to speed up development of new plant varieties.
Their work will be funded by the Government of Canada through Genome Canada and the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI). It was part of the 2012 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Competition, a partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
“This research will provide vital information about how organisms adapt to harsh climates and other conditions, giving insight into how to address global challenges such as the impact of climate change on our food supply,” said Mark Poznansky, OGI's president and CEO.
“Tools to identify specific traits within the genome will help us selectively breed new plants that are well-suited to their environment. OGI is pleased to support professors Lukens and Griswold’s research, which has broad applications in plant and animal breeding.”
Kevin Hall, Guelph’s vice-president (research), added: “This is another great example of how Guelph researchers are using their minds and discoveries to find solutions to critical issues, in this case to food and plant sustainability,”
Selective breeding of plants and animals generates populations with desirable traits such as high quality, high yield and the ability to grow in difficult conditions. Selective breeding helps ensure sufficient production for food, fuel and raw materials and reduces the environmental impact of agriculture.
Factors such as climate change and population growth make selective breeding more important than ever. But researchers have faced challenges in identifying genes and other genetic material that help improve environmental adaptation, and using this information in breeding programs.
Lukens and Griswold will use novel methods to integrate genomic signal processing and genomic selection.
“We are very excited to have received this award,” Lukens said. “Widespread sequencing of genomes has revolutionized genetics. In our research programs, we have worked to develop novel approaches for the analysis and utilization of this genomic data. This work will greatly facilitate our progress, and with these funds, we hope to develop an important tool for plant and animal breeding.”
Griswold thanked Genome Canada and the Ontario Genomics Institute for their support. “It allows us to develop new approaches for crop breeding and train highly qualified personnel. I am hopeful that these trainees and approaches will bring lasting value for agriculture in Canada.”
Flags at the University of Guelph will be at half-mast on Sunday and Monday to mark the Day of Mourning in Canada, observed on April 28 each year in honour of those who have lost their lives or been injured on the job.
A ceremony will be held at the flags in front of the University Centre at 11 a.m. Monday, April 29.
A joint proclamation recognizing the day has been issued by U of G and the University's employee groups.