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Global Institute for Food Security hosts Science Day ‘open house’ to showcase innovation

The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) today hosted its inaugural Science Day open house, to share its research and development solutions designed to enhance agriculture and food production in Saskatchewan, Canada and across the world.

The event took place at Marquis Hall on the University of Saskatchewan campus, and featured talks, poster presentations, demonstrations, and question-and-answer sessions by GIFS’ research program leaders, affiliates and post-doctoral fellows—highlighting the research institute’s multidisciplinary approach to addressing global food security challenges.

“There are various components to the food security ecosystem, including producers, institutions, industry and distributors,” GIFS Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Steven Webb said. “GIFS is part of that ecosystem, primarily at the production agriculture end. We work collaboratively with diverse and multidisciplinary partners to provide solutions for an accessible, safe, nutritious and reliable food system.”

GIFS was established in 2012 by Nutrien (formerly PotashCorp), the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan (USask)—to perform research and development that will help deliver transformative innovation to agriculture. A public-private partnership, it manages research and development programs with diverse stakeholders, to yield successful and desired scientific solutions to enhance agriculture and food production.

Scientific poster presentations covered topics ranging from enhancing crop resilience to plant reproduction and plant phenotyping.

Highlights of Science Day featured sessions on GIFS’ current program areas, including:

  • Improving plant roots through better understanding of root-soil-microbial interactions, led by GIFS Associate Director Leon Kochian, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Global Food Security at USask;
  • Creating stronger plant seeds through advances in reproductive biology, led by GIFS Research Chair in Seed Biology Tim Sharbel; and
  • Creating tools to accelerate and enhance plant breeding through digital agriculture, led by GIFS Director of Genomics and Bioinformatics Andrew Sharpe, who is also program director of the GIFS-managed USask Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre (P2IRC).

A plenary talk titled, The Food Security Challenge: International Perspectives of a Plant Breeder, was delivered by USask professor and GIFS affiliate Bert Vandenberg, NSERC-Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Industrial Research Chair in Genetic Improvement of Lentils.