‘Fuel of excellence’ required to Improve Life

Any researcher or scholar knows that bright ideas are a dime a dozen, especially on a campus full of bright people such as this one. For ideas that actually make an impact in the world, you need both the spark of innovation and the fuel of excellence.

Ask Bonnie Mallard, a pathobiology professor in the Ontario Veterinary College and one of the principals in U of G’s Food From Thought project meant to feed a growing world in sustainable ways.

This year she won a Governor General’s Award for Innovation for developing a tool called High Immune Response technology that improves dairy cattle health while ensuring food safety and quality.

Her moment to shine at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall this past spring was well-deserved recognition of an advance that will transform our quality of life in Canada and abroad.

Before that moment, of course, came years’ worth of work involving numerous campus and external researchers. Bonnie herself has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and spoken about her work hundreds of times at scienti c meetings.

Her example highlights a truism about research and innovation. While we tend to focus on the end result, it’s the process that matters more than the nal product or service.

At some point, Bonnie had a bright idea. But that spark also needed the fuel of excellence. That fuel is a blend including several key ingredients, as follows:

Discipline. Research calls for dedication, rigour, consistency and attention to methodology.

Perseverance. The “aha” moment normally arrives only after a lot of slogging and hard work.

Focus. Researchers need to maintain a laser focus on excellence.

Luck. Research involves serendipity. Researchers need to stay open to chance and be willing to follow detours.

Failure. We often regard failure as a bad thing. But accepting failure means you’re more willing to try things, to take risks and to nd the road to ultimate success.

Viewed this way, excellence becomes the process – a way of life, a way of thinking and doing. It’s the necessary fuel that, along with the spark of innovation, drives our researchers to Improve Life.

Franco Vaccarino
President and Vice-Chancellor