Achieving Excellence Progress Reports | Ontario Agricultural College

Achieving Excellence Progress Reports

Progress on elevating "Achieving Excellence"

Fall 2021 & Winter 2022 

  • Seven OAC classroom and meeting spaces received upgraded classroom technical equipment to support hybrid learning and ongoing engagement with remote communities and resources.
  • The Department of Animal Biosciences in collaboration with Meat and Poultry Ontario is establishing the Meat Tech Centre of Excellence that will expand the activities of the meat lab to work more closely with industry-related projects. 
  • The new Foundations in Agricultural Management online certificate course was launched, and 3,600 participants registered in its first month. The course is funded by a three-year, $1.25-million donation from the RBC Foundation and with support from Farm Credit Canada. 

Winter & Summer 2021

  • ­­­The Guelph Turfgrass Institute moved to its new state-of-the-art research and teaching facility, the G.M. Frost Research and Information Centre. Occupying about 17 acres, the new site contains 14 research plots, a classroom, a large lecture hall, a spacious boardroom and a scientific laboratory. The building is also headquarters for the Ontario Golf Superintendents Association, Sports Turf Canada and the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation. 
  • The School of Environmental Design and Rural Development pivoted their guest lectures to a virtual format, that resulted in greater participation and included more national and international speakers.
  • Multiple researchers from the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics contributed to a special edition of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics that focused on agriculture in the Biden era.
  • The School of Environmental Sciences hired Susan Chiblow, assistant professor in Indigenous environmental stewardship, to support the new Bachelor of Indigenous Environmental Science and Practice program.
  • The School of Environmental Design and Rural Development hired Afshin Ashari and Zannah Matson as new assistant professors in landscape architecture. Ashari’s research focuses on design media and professional practice and Matson’s focus is histories and contemporary reinterpretations of landscapes.
  • The Department of Food Science hired Alice Marciniak as an assistant professor in dairy science.

Summer & Fall 2020

  • The Department of Animal Biosciences and School of Environmental Sciences have established departmental working groups on equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Five new faculty members were hired in the areas of meat science, Indigenous environmental science, environmental microbiology, systematic entomology, and wheat breeding and genetics. 
  • The Department of Plant Agriculture hired a new computational biologist to support the work of graduate students, researchers and professors and making the most of big data they are collecting.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, 100 OAC principal investigators have been able to conduct research, not including research that continued remotely without interruption. Many OAC researchers have also participated in response committees, conducted COVID-19 research, given media interviews, and published special COVID-19 resources. For example: Prof. Mike Von Massow has been featured 10 times in the media regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on agri-food. 
  • Profs. Silvia Sarapura and Leith Deacon signed an MOU with the International Potato Center in Peru to enable graduate students from U of G to collaborate with researchers there, gain international experience, expand their network, and provide further opportunities for field work.
  • The School of Environmental Sciences (SES) hired Dr. Faez Mohammed through the Scholars at Risk Canada program, which supports and defends the principles of academic freedom and defends the human rights of scholars around the world.  He studies agricultural and food chemistry. He joined SES in December 2019 and has been renewed for a second year.

Winter 2020

  • In January 2020, the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development hosted close to 200 people for a discussion on the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects' statement on Landscape Architecture and Reconciliation. The event was organized by the school and Chris Grossett (Chair of the CSLA Reconciliation Advisory Committee, and OAC alumni, MLA 2000) to share reconciliation efforts forward in the profession of landscape architecture. By working closely with the CSLA, the school hopes to better prepare it students to address the needs of Indigenous communities and support reconciliation.
  • Prof. Alan Ker, Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, spearheaded a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics on the implications of COVID-19 on the Canadian agriculture and food sectors. The collection of 18 short articles was released online and is open access through to the end of July. 
  • Seven new faculty members have been hired in the areas of specialty crops, forage and service crops, aquaculture, entomology, environmental microbiology and two hires in food industry economics.
  • Prof. Amar Mohanty, Department of Plant Agriculture, was appointed as the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) Distinguished Research Chair in Sustainable Biomaterials in February.
  • In the Winter 2020 semester, the following OAC community members who awards: 
    • OAC student Conor Russell received the Student Experience Brian D. Sullivan Student Leadership Award for creating the Queer Christian Community, a program for LGBTQ2SIA+ students seeking an affirming faith community.
    • Paul Luimes, Ridgetown Campus, received the 2020 UGFA 2 Award for Excellence in Teaching.
    • Prof. Andy Robinson, Department of Animal Biosciences, was selected by U of G students to deliver the Last Lecture.
    • Prof. Kate Shoveller, Department of Animal Biosciences, was an inaugural recipient of the American Feed Industry Association’s Friend of Pet Food Award.
    • Prof. Amar Mohanty, Department of Plant Agriculture, was the recipient of the Polymer Processing Society’s (PPS) JL White Innovation Award 2020.
    • Prof. Nate Perkins, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, received the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Fall 2019

  • The School of Environmental Sciences is developing an Indigenous Environmental Stewardship major in the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management degree to meet the growing demand for environmental stewards. This specialization will enable Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to study the environment and its management in fundamentally new ways. Active consultation and collaboration with Indigenous leaders is a crucial element of the program development. 
  • To meet the increased demands on program curriculum, student academic counselling and academic issue management, Prof. Renée Bergeron was appointed as the Assistant Dean – Academic. A large focus of this 8-month appointment is strengthening the associate diploma programs offered by the college and moving online program development forward. 
  • Construction began on the new Guelph Turfgrass Institute this summer.
  • The new Soils at Guelph initiative in the School of Environmental Sciences was launched to increase awareness of soil research. It facilitates collaboration and knowledge exchange among stakeholders, including farmers, researchers, industry, government, and the general public. It aims to educate everyone on the importance of keeping soils healthy.
  • In March 2019, the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics hosted a public panel discussion on “Farming on First Nations: Reconciling Business with Social Enterprise to Achieve Food Security”. The panel featured four speakers representing the Federal government, Six Nations and Nishnawbe Aski Nation. 
  • The Office of the Associate Dean - Research and Graduate Studies developed an OAC Strategy for Tri-Agency Success for research funding received through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The strategy details steps forward in directing resources and developing activities to increase Tri-Agency program participation, success rates and research funding secured by OAC faculty. 
  • The Dean’s Office launched a new research-focused podcast called the Why & How Podcast that looks to answer big questions in agriculture, food, and the environment through casual conversations rooted in research. The podcast received a certificate of merit at a 2019 Best of the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association Awards Gala. 

Summer 2019

  • Our academic units have continued their reinvestment in and renewal of faculty members to enhance our research, teaching and outreach efforts. Of particular note is the renewal happening in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development. Of the 19 faculty members in the school, nine of them have joined since 2016, and two additional faculty members are being hired in rural planning and development. 
  • The Department of Food Science’s Guelph Food Innovation Centre has made significant strides over the last year in its pursuit to offer research services to the food industry. Derek Vella was hired as manager of the centre and all three pilot plants have received certification for processing various products, including dairy. 

Updated March 20, 2023.