New Controlled Environments Prof

Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Thomas Graham in black t-shirt and hat, standing outside

The School of Environmental Sciences is pleased to welcome Thomas Graham as the new PhytoGro Research Chair in Controlled Environment Systems.

In this new role, created through a $1 million donation from PhytoGro Canada, a PRM Inc. company, Graham will lead cutting edge research to develop novel approaches in controlled environment plant production systems in a range of applications from urban agriculture and phytopharmaceutical applications to space exploration.

“Thomas has a strong resume with impressive industry connections,” says Prof. Jon Warland, director of the School of Environmental Sciences. “He is well known in the American, German and European space agencies for his bio-regenerative life-support research, and it is great to have his unique skillset and knowledge part of our faculty.”

One of Graham’s primary areas of focus will be the optimization and standardization of plant-based medicine production, including medicinal cannabis. 

“Most of the global population still relies on plant-based medicines as their primary medical intervention,” says Graham. “This puts an enormous and unsustainable pressure on the largely wild-harvested plants.  Bringing these crops into controlled environment production will improve the quality, consistency, and safety of these medical commodities while also relieving the pressure on wild populations.”

“We feel extremely fortunate to be working with Professor Graham and the whole team at CESRF,” shares Ken Clement, founder of PRM Inc. “My dreams of producing plant-based medicine to pharmaceutical standards would not be possible without the efforts of the entire team and for that I will be forever grateful.”

 “I’m very excited for the opportunity to leverage leading edge technology to tackle many of the pressing issues of our time,” says Graham.

“The University of Guelph is in a truly unique position to make major advances in several key areas including plant-based medicine production and standardization, addressing food insecurity, and advancing human space exploration through bioregenerative life-support.”

Graham is also very passionate about how controlled environment agricultural production can solve food insecurity issues in Canada and around the globe.

Graham has been the Research and Development Manager at the University’s Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility since 2015. Prior, he held a prestigious post-doctoral research fellowship at N.A.S.A. at the Kennedy Space Centre. He received both his PhD and MSc from the University of Guelph. His B.Sc. is also from the University of Guelph, with part of the degree completed through an exchange with the University of Stirling in Scotland. To date he has published 37 peer-reviewed articles.

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