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.

The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory

Screenshot of the CWRC homepage

The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) led by Prof. Susan Brown, is an online platform that provides scholars with a toolkit for creating and sharing research on Canadian writing and culture. The Collaboratory provides researchers and the general public with free access to more than a quarter of a million digital objects to better understand Canadian cultural development, and promotes new forms of digital scholarship and collaboration. 

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Explaining shortness of breath in heart failure patients

Graphic image of lungs

A discovery by Prof. Jeremy Simpson has helped researchers better understand shortness of breath in heart failure patients. Past research found that fluid buildup in the lungs was to blame. But Simpson found hormone irregularities, such as high levels of norepinephrine, linked to increased blood pressure on the diaphragm. This pressure may be what causes improper breathing in most people with heart conditions. Simpson’s discovery could lead to more accurate treatment options in the future.  



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New technique to treat ovarian cancer

Pelvic x-ray showing

An improved treatment for ovarian cancer developed by Prof. Jim Petrik may help increase patient survival rates. Petrik discovered that a protein inhibitor (a substance that stops cell growth) known as 3TSR was able to shrink tumours in animals with the disease. It resulted in them responding more easily to chemotherapy, and requiring lower dosages of drugs. 3TSR could be used to create effective treatments and reduced side effects for patients with other types of cancer as well. Image courtesy Jim Petrik 

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New model explores how children influence parents

Cover of Handbook of Dynamics in Parent Child Relations book

Traditionally, family relationship researchers explored interactions between parents and their children as a one-way street: parents influence how their children develop, but not vice versa. So Prof. Leon Kuczynski created the Family Bilateral Model to bring a new perspective to family dynamics. The model explains how children not only have influence on how they are parented, but also have a significant influence on their parents’ development, including parents' preferences, attitudes, personal choices and emotional experiences.

Novel research perspective on generational identity

Generational identity, or how one identifies with the generation they were born in, is believed to be more fluid and complex than ever before, thanks to research by Prof. Sean Lyons. He found that factors such as the economy, social issues and technology affected people’s identities more so than their age group. Lyon’s innovative approach to studying generational identity could positively impact multigenerational workplaces, as employees and managers gain a better understanding of diverse identities within generational groups. Photo: SPARK

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Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre offers advanced technology

photo two of the NMRs, including the ‘flagship’ 800 MHz NMR Spectrometer

 The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Centre allows researchers and students across campus to access state-of-the-art equipment for various projects in biophysics, chemistry, food and environmental science, and biology. Currently, more than 70 undergraduate students in teaching labs and 110 scientists working in 21 different research groups are using the seven spectrometers, including the high-field 800 MHz spectrometer and the unique Dynamic Nuclear Polarization spectrometer, to study the structure and function of food, chemicals, proteins, carbohydrates, and biological membranes. Photo courtesy Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre 

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Candy apples stay sweet—and disease free—thanks to the Forced Air Ozone Reactor

Photo of a Moyer candy apple covered in chocolate and candy cane sprinkles.

In 2014, a Listeria outbreak linked to candy apples prompted researchers to investigate new ways of decontaminating fruit. Prof. Keith Warriner, in collaboration with Paul Moyer, invented the Forced Air Ozone Reactor. By considering the aerodynamics of air through apple beds it was possible to design a reactor that homogenously distributes ozone to inactivate microbes on the surface and internal tissue of fruit. A second process based on Advanced Oxidative Process (ultraviolet and hydrogen peroxide) was also developed to decontaminate apples, in addition to a diverse range of produce types. Photo courtesy Keith Warriner

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Bringing African literature to light

Cover of the book The Companion to African Literatures

The only comprehensive guide to African literary works written and widely available in English was created by U of G Prof. Douglas Killam. The Companion to African Literatures was compiled in collaboration with hundreds of scholars, writers and critics from several countries including Canada, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Now, the compilation is a standard university reference book used to help students and researchers better understand topics such as censorship, women in literature and oral traditions.  

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Specially bred tea relieves joint pain

Photo of mint

A daily cup of tea could help ease the effects of arthritis, according to U of G researchers. Prof. Laima Kott discovered that people who drank tea high in rosmarinic acid, an anti-inflammatory compound, reported lower pain levels in their joints. Researchers then selectively-bred a variety of spearmint plant to maximize levels of rosmarinic acid, which could also be used to treat other health conditions such as osteoarthritis.

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Online tool helps farmers hire better

Ontario’s rural producers often do not have a human resources department dedicated to hiring the best candidates for on-farm jobs. Prof. Sara Mann designed a website with online tools to help producers create questions for interviews and performance appraisals. The website also offers research-based consultations, workshops and webinars on how to avoid biases and create equal opportunity for perspective employees. 

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