Innovating to improve life

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.

Waste Water Treatment Pilot Facility

Google map earth view of waste water pilot

In the last 50 years, the technology behind waste water treatment facilities has remained virtually unchanged in Canada. To meet new demands for economic and environmental sustainability, U of G researchers created a cutting-edge pilot facility for waste water treatment. Built in conjunction with the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC) and the City of Guelph, the pilot facility will test new technology. With the help of funding received by SOWC, the pilot facility will help researchers find innovative ways to eliminate energy costs associated with waste water treatment. Photo: Google Maps earth view

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APERL (Agroforestry Practices to Enhance Resource-Poor Livelihoods)

Woman farming

Impoverished communities in Ghana are achieving sustainable livelihoods and food security through the project Agroforestry Practices to Enhance Resource-Poor Livelihoods (APERL). Since its inception in 2006 by U of G Profs. Andrew Gordon and Naresh Thevathasan, APERL has supplied over 50,000 fruit trees, created more than 600 jobs and provided hands-on education in sustainable farm management.

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Screen shot of the NutriStep® website

In Canada, as many as 20 per cent of young children are nutritionally at risk. That means they may develop growth problems, anemia and lifelong poor eating habits. To help address the problem, researchers created NutriSTEP®, a licensed nutrition screening program for toddlers and preschoolers. The program consists of questionnaires that help parents evaluate their child’s nutritional habits based on dietary intake, eating habits and physical activity. Read more on page 29 in the link below.

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Adaptive-Use Musical Instruments for the physically challenged

Screen capture of AUMI being used

Adaptive-Use Musical Instruments software interface (AUMI) enables people who have very limited voluntary mobility to create music. This collaborative research effort, to create a free musical instrument that translates small face and body movements into sounds for improvisational music making, is a key project of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, a partnered-research institute centred at the University of Guelph. AUMI is being used internationally in schools, music therapy, and artistic collaborations between differently abled musicians and dancers. 

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Cannabis treatment for nausea and vomiting

The cover of Prof. Parker's book "Cannabinoids and the Brain"

Chemotherapy often causes acute nausea and vomiting, as well as anticipatory nausea and vomiting, experienced when cancer patients return to a clinic they mentally associate with sickness. U of G Prof. Linda Parker developed animal models of acute and anticipatory nausea using rats and vomiting using shrews. With these models, researchers have evaluated the effectiveness of compounds found in the cannabis plant to combat symptoms. She discovered that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), suppressed nausea in laboratory rats and vomiting in shrews. Parker has authored Cannabinoids and the Brain, a book that outlines research on the effects of both cannabis derived cannabinoids and natural cannabinoids found in our brain on the treatment of nausea and vomiting, pain, anxiety, appetite and neurological disorders.

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Photo of a neural network

The Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network (SHARCNET) is an innovative research initiative involving institutions across Ontario -- including the University of Guelph -- that have access to high-performance computing platforms (HPC) for science, engineering, business, and humanities research projects. School of Engineering Prof. Graham Taylor and a research team have worked with SHARCNET to create an open-source framework for artificial intelligence practitioners that will help them train parallel deep learning models from larger data sets, reducing the time to build computer models that are used in applications like internet searches, translation services, recommendation systems and autonomous vehicles.

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Animal-free test for mutagens and carcinogens

This figure shows the metabolism of a typical aromatic amine mutagen - the work done by the bacteria.

A cost-effective, sensitive and animal-free test for mutagenic/carcinogenic agents was pioneered by U of G researcher David Josephy. Previously, researchers relied on enzymes found in rat tissue to carry out the metabolism required to detect environmental mutagens and carcinogens, such as are found in grilled meat or diesel exhaust. Josephy engineered bacteria that express these enzymes, such as human P450 1A2, and used them to establish an animal-free version of the widely used Amest test. This figure shows the metabolism of a typical aromatic amine mutagen - the work done by the bacteria.

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L.M. Montgomery Collection

A page from L.M. Montgomery's diary

Lucy Maud Montgomery, who penned the beloved Anne of Green Gables novel series, is recognized as one of Canada’s most celebrated authors. Archival and Special Collections at the U of G holds the largest collection of Montgomery memorabilia in the world. Since 1981, the collection has amassed the author’s handwritten journals, scrapbooks, legal documents and other items – including a manuscript that was thought to be lost. Visitors from all over the world have come to see the LMM Collection, and now, scholars and fans alike can access the collection online. Photo courtesy Archival and Special Collections

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Gambling Research Exchange Ontario

A row of slot machines

In Ontario, 15 per cent of gamblers are considered problem gamblers—meaning they indulge in gambling despite negative and harmful consequences. In a casino, the overload of sounds and visuals can lead gamblers to enter into a dissociative state, which makes them lose track of time and their money. Through the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre, now known as Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, Karen Gough --  a professor in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies who passed away in 2016 -- found that comfortable venues with restorative elements, such as relaxing images, can reduce gambling urges and prevent dissociation with reality.  

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Self-Injury Outreach Support (SiOS)

Screenshot of the SiOS website

Self-injury is a major mental health concern across the world -- as many as one in five youth and young adults report having self-injured. In 2012, Prof. Stephen Lewis co-founded Self-Injury Outreach and Support (SiOS), the first international online non-profit organization designed to provide research-informed resources for individuals that self-injure, those who are recovering, and those who can support them, including friends, romantic partners, and family. In addition to this, SiOS offers best-practice guides for schools and health professionals. Reached in over 130 countries to date, SiOS also offers a platform for users to share and access others’ recovery stories and words of encouragement. Follow SiOS on Twitter and Facebook: 

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