Innovating to improve life

Red and White Canada one hunded fiftieth logo

The University of Guelph's 150 Innovations Project commemorates Canada’s sesquicentennial. Research has long been part of our culture, beginning in the late 1800s with our three founding colleges. It continues today, in what has grown to become seven colleges with more than 30 departments. Support from a wide range of sponsors helps our 800 researchers innovate and improve life for people and communities locally, nationally and globally. Follow the links provided with each entry for more information about this selection of 150 University of Guelph innovations.

SPARK: The Guelph students behind the 150 innovations project

A photo of SPARK writer Marika Li (left) conferring with senior SPARK writer Alaina Osborne (right) about the 150 innovation project

With this post, the U of G’s 150 Innovations Project is now complete. We feel it's appropriate to finish the project with a nod to its writers and producers — that being the six participants in the U of G's Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge (SPARK) program. Eight months ago, SPARK took up the sesquicentennial project challenge from vice-president of research Dr. Malcolm Campbell. He envisioned the project as way to showcase the variety of University of Guelph's innovations and the impactful ways that U of G researchers improve life. SPARK students pursued 150 U of G innovations along with their regular duties: conducting interviews with researchers, writing stories and taking photographs that support the university's diverse research enterprise. "Our SPARK team has always done a wonderful job of sharing the impact of UofG research, and this showcase of 150 University of Guelph innovations is no exception. The SPARK team has created awesome insights into innovations in which we can all be proud," says Campbell. Photo: SPARK writer Marika Li (left) confers with senior SPARK writer Alaina Osborne (right) about the 150 innovation project

 

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Research centre takes multifaceted approach to violence prevention

The CSSLRV logo

The Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, established by Prof. and Canada Research Chair Myrna Dawson with funding from the Canadian Foundation of Innovation, aims to prevent violence, particularly against women and children. The centre creates, promotes and mobilizes knowledge to inform public policy through research, conferences/workshops and training opportunities for future researchers. Current projects include examining how geography and other social identities affects access to justice, the effectiveness of Canada’s legal and community responses to violence in an international context, particularly for femicide victims, and how risk assessment, risk management and safety planning can be enhanced for vulnerable populations experiencing violence. 

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Research team identifies fatal disease in piglets

Histology of small intestine in a PED infected pig

A fatal piglet disease, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, reached Canada for the first time in 2014, as a result of contaminated feed from the US. U of G researchers had predicted the outbreak and were ready with an innovative and validated test. Thanks to the expertise, advanced equipment and effective communication by teams at the Animal Health Lab, researchers were able to identify the cause of the contamination. They detected the virus early enough to significantly reduce its spread. Photo, histology of small intestine in a PED infected pig:  Dr. Murray Hazlett 

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Advanced facility lets researchers take a closer look at genes

A genomics sequence

The Genomics Facility is a highly specialized lab at the U of G that offers molecular biology technology for DNA sequencing, genotyping and gene expression analysis. The lab is designated as an Ontario Genomics Platform Affiliate, which means it provides topnotch tools and training opportunities for academic, government and private sector institutions. The lab has been used by researchers studying a wide range of topics, including the genetic structure of Atlantic salmon, mutant genes in tomatoes and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  

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Simple chemical formula breaks down toxic substances

An image of the halothane formula

Halogenated hydrocarbons are commonly used as pesticides and refrigerants, as well as in electronic and pharmaceutical applications. However, these molecules are toxic even in low concentrations found in the environment, such as waste water systems. Prof. Michael Denk and graduate students Nicholas Milutinovic and Katherine Marczenko have developed a chemical method to break down halogenated hydrocarbons into environmentally friendly substances. Unlike traditional treatments, the U of G method is cost-effective, easy to manufacture, compatible with water, air, and organic solutions, and creates no toxic byproducts. Image courtesy Michael Denk

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Maitland trefoil makes for healthy pastures throughout the years

Photo of maitland trefoil

Trefoil is a nutrient-rich legume grown on pastures to supplement grass for grazing livestock in the summer. Trefoil, however, can be slow to establish on pastures. That’s why Prof. Bruce Twamley selected Maitland trefoil in 1969 for its vigorous seedlings, yield and hardiness. The Maitland variety helped expand the use of trefoil in long-term pastures, since it had improved seedling vigour, no bloat hazard, could reseed naturally, and tolerate grazing pressure. 

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Bruce barley breeds success

Photo of Bruce barley

Bruce barley, created by Prof. Ernie Reinbergs, was the first variety to be licensed for sale through SeCan Association, Canada’s largest selling brand of certified seed. Officially released in 1978, Bruce barley was designed to have better disease resistance and mature earlier than its contemporary breeds. Today, Bruce barley is recognized as one of the U of G’s most successful plant varieties. Photo courtesy Duane Falk

 

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Unique Livestock Research and Innovation Centre for beef in Elora

A photo of three beef cattle

The Province of Ontario - through the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario, Beef Farmers of Ontario and the U of G have partnered to build beef research facilities in Elora. The new facilities will allow students and researchers alike to study genetics, cattle production, feed efficiency, food safety and beef quality with advanced technology and equipment. Photo: Beef Farmers of Ontario 

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Orlando Project: Online resource brings women’s writing forward

Collage of writers in the Orlando Project

A digital database called the Orlando Project focuses on women’s writing in the British Isles. Prof. Susan Brown is the technical lead of this project, which contains personal, biographical and professional information on more than 1,200 authors. Researchers and the public may easily search through the equivalent of 80 volumes of text using a few key search words and information filters. 

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BEETcast beats crop disease

Photo of sugar beets in the ground

Sugarbeets are subject to Cercospora leaf spot (CLS), a costly fungal disease that causes spotting on plant leafs. Prof. Ron Pitblado created an advisory called BEETcast, which was designed to help producers choose the best time (based on climate) to apply fungicide in order to protect their crops from infection. Now, Prof. Cheryl Trueman and her collaborators at the Weather INnovations Consulting LP are testing different permutations of BEETcast with a variety of fungicides to further enhance the advisory. 

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