Designing Crops for Global Food Security

P2IRC’s seven-year innovative research and training program, Designing Crops for Global Food Security, will transform crop breeding and provide innovative solutions to national and global food security. The program builds upon the Global Institute for Food Security’s (GIFS) focus on computational agriculture to enhance the U of S biosciences cluster - one of the largest clusters of food-related researchers in the world.

P2IRC will combine the sciences of plant bioinformatics and genomics with crop phenotyping (the identification of useful traits) using advanced image acquisition technologies, high-performance computing, and impactful socioeconomic analyses.

Technologies and expertise developed at P2IRC will elevate Canada’s position as a global powerhouse in agricultural research and lead to commercial spin-offs involving field and aerial sensors, satellite imaging, robotics, and big data analytics.

Quick Facts

Linking Technology to the Developing World

Although many of the approaches used in P2IRC to link genotyping to phenotyping (trait-mapping) appear to be high-tech, advanced methods, we are aware of the need of developing countries to improve their agricultural productivity. In fact, countries in sub-saharan Africa are already beginning to use digital tools in agriculture through the medium of smartphones and web-based tools which may be situated remotely. P2IRC researchers will work on approaches that will be transferable to the developing world, so that farmers everywhere can benefit from the confluence of digital technologies and agriculture.

Structure and Governance

P2IRC's governance structure includes leadership from the University of Saskatchewan and the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS). Advisory committees include the following: an Institutional Oversight Committee (IOC), International Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC), Executive Research Committee (ERC), and an Industry Advisory Committee (IAC).

Leadership

With U of S Vice-President Research, Karen Chad, providing oversight, P2IRC is managed by Maurice Moloney, Executive Director and CEO of GIFS. P2IRC's leadership is building a talented and multi-disciplinary team across the U of S campus and with collaborating Canadian and international universities and centres.

Institutional Oversight Committee (IOC)

The CFREF IOC provides advice and guidance to the U of S Vice-President Research. The IOC also assists in operational matters including recruitment, monitoring progress, and endorsing project objectives. Strategic functions include promoting the CFREF: Designing Crops for Global Food Security within and outside the university, as well as engagement of faculty, staff, and students across the university and with national and international partners.

Dr. Karen Chad is the Vice-President Research at the University of Saskatchewan and is also a faculty member in the U of S College of Kinesiology. With a Ph.D. from the University of Queensland in Australia, Dr. Chad is a prolific researcher holding several research grants and contracts and has supervised numerous graduate students.  She received the YWCA Woman of Distinction (Health and Education) award and was awarded the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal.  In addition, Karen has earned five teaching awards including the U of S Master Teacher Award.

Dr. Chad sits on a number of national boards and has chaired or overseen more than 100 key boards, committees, research programs, and teams.  Honors include an International Award for “Innovation in Research”, the National Leadership Award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and in 2011 was identified as a “Woman of Influence” by Saskatchewan Business Magazine.

The University of Saskatchewan is committed to enhancing its capacity for research, scholarly and artistic work; strengthening its performance; and promoting the transfer of knowledge for the benefit of communities. As the Vice-President Research, Dr. Chad plays a strategic leadership role in achieving these objectives within the context of the University’s key goals: to attract and retain outstanding faculty; to increase campus-wide commitment to research; to establish the University of Saskatchewan as a major presence in graduate education; and to recruit and retain a diverse and academically promising body of students.

Building on the University of Saskatchewan’s renowned history of discovery and innovation spanning more than a century, Dr. Chad, the University’s Vice-President Research, aims to enhance globally important research under the banner of “discovery with impact”; bringing its expertise on issues of importance to communities and to society.

Dr Buhr completed her PhD in Reproductive Biology from the University of Waterloo in 1982, and worked at Agriculture Canada and the University of Manitoba before joining the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph in 1988. Buhr served as Associate Dean (Academic) and then Interim Dean before moving to Saskatchewan.
 
Buhr’s research interest centres on all aspects of sperm physiology and its relationship to fertility to improve fertility of sperm for use in artificial insemination. Research couples practical, industry level trials with fundamental mechanisms of sperm signalling and fertilization. She has published over 75 refereed papers and book chapters with a wide variety of students, scientists and industries and serves on numerous Boards and committees locally, nationally, and internationally.
 
The College of Agriculture and Bioresources helps address the many issues the province, country and world will face in managing our precious natural resources in the coming decades. The College has over 1200 students, 80 faculty and 400 staff, conducting $30million worth of innovative research annually. Agriculture is one of the University's premiere signature areas, and the College helps plants, animals, food, renewable products, resource management, policies and business to adapt, thrive and produce the intelligent informed leaders who will generate the sustainable and competitive bioeconomy the world and its inhabitants need.

Lorne Hepworth is now retired, after serving for over 16 years as President and CEO of CropLife Canada, the trade association representing developers, manufacturers and distributors of plant science innovations for use in agriculture, urban and public health settings. Dr. Hepworth is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Institute for Food Security, as well as a member of the Boards of CARE Canada and Input Capital Corp. He is on the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund Governance Committee and the Advisory Board for Assiniboia Farmland Holdings LP. Dr. Hepworth previously served as Chair of the Board of Genome Canada. He recently served on the Canadian Council of Academies Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in the Agriculture Landscapes of Canada. He has served as a member of the Advisory Board of the National Research Council of Canada, Plant Biotechnology Institute; the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council; the federal government’s Pest Management Advisory Committee and National Biotechnology Advisory Committee.

A graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan (1971), Dr. Hepworth was a veterinarian in Alberta and Saskatchewan until 1982, when he was elected to Saskatchewan’s Legislative Assembly. He subsequently served nine years in Cabinet, during which he was minister of Agriculture, Education, Finance, and Energy and Mines. From 1993 to 1997, he held several executive positions with the Canadian Agra group of companies specializing in agri-food/feed production, processing and marketing. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2014 was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. He was raised on a farm near Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, and continues to have an interest in farming there, including the original homestead quarter established by his grandfather in 1907. He is married to Fern and they have two adult children (Graeme and Alana).

During Jerome's tenure at Saskatchewan Innovation (October 2011-October 2016), he helped develop key partnerships between the province, industry and academia in sectors including mining (International Minerals Innovation Institute), nuclear innovation (Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation) and agriculture (Global Institute for Food Security).  Konecsni joined the province after serving as the Director General of the National Research Council's Plant Biotechnology Institute. In this capacity he was part of a team that was awarded the National Public Service Award of Excellence for contribution in science for the first 100 per cent bio jet flight in the world.He has also served as the CEO of Genome Prairie and BioSmart Technologies, and as Vice-President of Corporate Development for Bioriginal Food and Science Corporation. In the latter role, he helped the company grow from a small start up to a successful international enterprise with a presence on four continents.

Konecsni is an active leader in the community and has served on many boards and committees. He was a founding director of both the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation and the International Minerals Innovation Institute, and served on the boards of the Canadian Light Source, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, and the Agricultural Bioscience International Conference. Born, raised, and educated in Saskatchewan, Jerome received his MA, BEd and BA (Honours) from the University of Saskatchewan. In 2011, he was awarded a Honourary Doctorate from Karunya University in India.

Robert Lamb is the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Light Source, Canada’s national synchrotron facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Professor Lamb completed a PhD in Surface Chemistry at The University of Melbourne and a PhD in Solid State Physics at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. His academic history includes appointments at institutions including University of Heidelberg, Germany; University of Sydney; University of Cambridge as well as Universities in the USA and Hong Kong. He has published 202 papers and 39 patents, most notably in the area of surface and materials science. He has lectured in both Physics and Chemistry for the past 20 years and has had 75 postgraduates in the past decade.

Dr. Lamb was Head of the School of Chemistry at the University of New South Wales (Sydney) from 2000-2006 and also Director of the Surface Science and Technology Centre. From 2007-2009 he was Foundation Director of the Australian Synchrotron - the $400 million National Science institute established in Melbourne. He served on a number of committees including the Australian Academy of Sciences Chemistry Committee, Editorial board of Surface and Interface Analysis, including Chair of Scientific Advisory Committee for the Canadian Light Source. He also chaired the ISO group that produced National Standards for surface characterization and also world’s first ISO certification for Synchrotron operations.

He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and currently holds positions on Boards in Australia, North America and Asia. He has founded 3 start-up ventures. His current research interests are in thin film materials with particular emphasis on non-stick surfaces. He is also working with staff and students on developing the translation of science to technology within a University setting.

Dr. Maurice Moloney was appointed Executive Director and CEO of the Global Institute for Food Security in 2014. He also serves as Program Director for the University of Saskatchewan’s Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre (P2IRC), which is managed by GIFS.

Previously, Dr. Moloney served as Group Executive, Food, Health and Life Sciences, CSIRO, Australia, and Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research in the UK, the oldest and largest agricultural research centre in Europe. He founded SemBioSys in 1994 and served as its President and then CSO until 2010. Concurrently, he was a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary and held the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in plant biotechnology.

Dr. Moloney began his North American career as Head of the Cell Biology Group at Calgene Inc. where he developed the first transgenic canola plant. He has published over 90 research papers and is inventor on 300+ patents worldwide.  He holds a BSc in chemistry, a PhD in plant biochemistry, and was awarded a DSc honoris causa from universities of De Montfort, Lethbridge, and Lancaster.

Executive Research Committee (ERC)

The ERC includes our P2IRC Theme Leads in each of our research areas:

Dr. Maurice Moloney was appointed Executive Director and CEO of the Global Institute for Food Security in 2014. He also serves as Program Director for the University of Saskatchewan’s Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre (P2IRC), which is managed by GIFS.

Previously, Dr. Moloney served as Group Executive, Food, Health and Life Sciences, CSIRO, Australia, and Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research in the UK, the oldest and largest agricultural research centre in Europe. He founded SemBioSys in 1994 and served as its President and then CSO until 2010. Concurrently, he was a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary and held the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in plant biotechnology.

Dr. Moloney began his North American career as Head of the Cell Biology Group at Calgene Inc. where he developed the first transgenic canola plant. He has published over 90 research papers and is inventor on 300+ patents worldwide.  He holds a BSc in chemistry, a PhD in plant biochemistry, and was awarded a DSc honoris causa from universities of De Montfort, Lethbridge, and Lancaster.

Dave Schneider is the GIFS Chair in Digital and Computational Agriculture and professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan.  While formally trained as a chemist, he has published in a variety of fields including chemistry, physics, engineering, immunology, genetics, molecular and systems biology, and computer science.  His current research interests focus on computational aspects of root system phenotyping and functional genomics.

Andrew Sharpe is the Director of Genomics and Bioinformatics at GIFS and joins P2IRC in the capacities of theme lead of phenometrics and lead of the genomics and bioinformatics platform that is supporting the initiative. Dr. Sharpe oversees efforts to establish integrated crop genomics, informatics, and phenomics platforms to support both GIFS and P2IRC.

Dr. Sharpe received his BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences from the University of Leicester in 1988 and his PhD in Plant Genetics from the University of East Anglia in 1997 while working at the John Innes Centre in the UK. He brings significant experience in plant genetics and genomics to P2IRC and GIFS from his careers as a senior research officer at the National Research Council of Canada and at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Saskatoon. Dr. Sharpe has coordinated several projects to establish genomics and molecular genetics resources in numerous crops including canola, wheat, and lentil. He is currently co-lead on the $10M Genome Canada / Prairie 'Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics' (CTAG2) project, which recently led the development of a high quality whole genome assembly of the bread wheat genome.

Dean Chapman’s research involves the use of synchrotron radiation and x-ray optics directed to medical and biological problems, specifically in the area of x-ray imaging. His present research is directed toward a fundamental understanding of the contrast mechanisms, methods to independently extract the mechanisms into images, and computer modeling of tissue systems. Other research he is involved in relates to efforts to develop laboratory based DEI systems with the possible extensions to clinical systems.

Carl Gutwin is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan, the co-director of the U of S Human-Computer Interaction lab, and a past Canada Research Chair in Next-Generation Groupware. He has published more than 200 papers in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). In 2012, he was inducted into the ACM CHI Academy for his contributions to HCI research, and he was recognized as an ACM Distinguished Researcher in 2015. His research covers a variety of topics in HCI and CSCW including interface design and organization, information visualization, modeling of human performance, collaboration support, and groupware usability.

Peter WB Phillips is Distinguished Professor of Public Policy in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan. He undertakes research on governing transformative innovation, including regulation and policy, innovation systems, intellectual property, supply chain management and trade policy. He held a SSHRC/NSERC Chair in Managing Technological Change, has been co-applicant or principal investigator on about 20 grants, with a total awarded value of approximately $250 million. He was co-lead of a $5.4 million Genome Canada project entitled Value Addition through Genomics and GE3LS (VALGEN) which ran 2009-14. He is author or editor of 13 books, over 40 journal articles and more than 50 book chapters.

International Scientific Advisory
Committee (ISAC)

The ISAC provides independent expert scientific advice to the Program Director and ERC, and offers objective input into the strategic direction of the program. The ISAC ensures research objectives and methodologies are sound and well positioned to address the needs of Canada and the world.

The Committee advises on the scientific strategic quality of proposals to be funded through this award, as well as international scientific trends, emerging scientific research opportunities, knowledge translation, and potential national and international competition and collaborations and linkages. The ISAC is also the primary body for monitoring progress against objectives.

Membership on the P2IRC ISAC includes world-renowned researchers and innovation leaders in areas of expertise including genetics, phenomics, bioinformatics, crop science, imaging techniques, computer science, social sciences, and public engagement.

Professor Peter Langridge is a leading University of Adelaide plant scientist, now emeritus professor, and Australia’s Scientist of the Year (2011) who brings his expertise in cereal and plant genomics to P2IRC’s ISAC. He serves on advisory boards for several research organizations and companies in Europe and North America and is an honorary fellow of Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Professor Langridge’s recent activities have focused on food security and technology delivery to resource-poor farmers in many parts of the world and on Australia’s role in supporting global food security.

Professor Mario Caccamo is the Head of Crop Bioinformatics at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and has over 15 years of experience in life science research and big data. His work includes the application of DNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatics methods to the study of crop genetics and interactions between agricultural crops and their environments. He led work on the assembly of the first whole-genome release of the wheat reference sequence and helped found the Wheat Initiative’s expert working group focused on an international Wheat Information System.

Professor John Doonan has spent over 25 years working with genetics and the developmental cell biology of plants and fungi. Before joining the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences centre as director of the National Plant Phenomics Centre at the University of Aberystwyth, he was group leader at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Previous to that, he worked at the Robert Wood Johnston Medical School in New Jersey, USA and obtained his PhD from Leeds University.

Dr. Christophe Godin is a senior researcher at Inria (the French institute for computational sciences and mathematics) and head of the Inria Virtual Plants team. His main research interests lie in the computational modeling of plant development and morphology at scales ranging from the cellular level up to the whole plant. Dr. Godin’s group is developing OpenAleaLab, a software platform dedicated to modeling morphogenesis and making possible the use and combination of various computational paradigm.

Professor Bronwyn Harch is the Executive Director of the Institute for Future Environments (IFE) and professor of applied statistical science at Queensland University of Technology. Professor Harch leads transdisciplinary research efforts between industry, government, and the community to address global challenges by generating knowledge, technology, and practices that catalyze sustainability, security, and resiliency in our world. Her career in applied statistics spans 21 years of research, primarily at the nexus of agricultural and environmental systems, and focuses on the statistical design of landscape-scale sampling protocols, monitoring programs, and modeling complex systems.

Professor Victor Malka, after having spent 20 years running a world-class laboratory in high-intensity laser physics at the École Polytechnique in France, is now head of the Schwartz/Reisman Laboratory for Intense Laser Physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Since producing the first laser-plasma-driven electron beams in the late 1980s, Professor Malka has demonstrated new applications of this technology in many diverse fields and has used laser power to miniaturize particle accelerators into something fitting easily on a lab bench.

Dr. Philip G. Pardey is Professor of Science and Technology Policy in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. He is also the Director of Global Research Strategy for the College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and directs the University’s International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) Center. Dr. Pardey's research deals with agricultural productivity measurement and assessment, the finance and conduct of R&D globally, methods for assessing the economic impacts of research, and the economic and policy (especially intellectual property) aspects of genetic resources and the biosciences.

Professor Tony Pridmore leads the Computer Vision Laboratory at the University of Nottingham where he works to develop integrated plant phenomics technologies. He is a founder and managing member of the university's Centre for Plant Integrative Biology and is co-director of the Hounsfield Facility, an installation providing automated extraction of 3D structural descriptions of plants from X-ray data. Professor Pridmore also co-chairs the UK Plant Phenotyping Network and is a co-organizer of the Imaging and Image Analysis Working Group of the International Plant Phenotyping Network.

Professor Ulrich Schurr joins our ISAC as a renowned plant scientist with a wide background in plant ecology, physiology, molecular biology, and plant breeding. He presently leads IBG-2: Plant Sciences at Forschungszentrum Jülich, is the founding director of the Bioeconomy Science Center, is the coordinator for both the German and European Plant Phenotyping Networks, and is a member of the German Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences. Professor Schurr is the chairman of EMPHASIS, the International Plant Phenotyping Network, and the European Technology Platform.

Dr. Jean Susini is Director of Research for life sciences at the European Synchrotron, where he investigates X-ray optics and imaging techniques. Prior to this, he was the head of the Instrumentation Services and Development Division, an interdisciplinary centre of excellence with 130 staff working on detectors and electronics, X-ray optics, mechanical engineering, data analysis, and beamline control. Dr. Susini serves on various advisory boards and review committees including for synchrotron facilities in Spain, the UK, France, Taiwan, and America.

Industry Advisory Committee (IAC)

The IAC consists of national and international business and innovation leaders in areas that complement the research strengths and themes of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund award and its ambitions for world-class research excellence and applicability.

The IAC provides independent advice on matters of commerce to the Program Director and Executive Research Committee, and offers objective input into the strategic direction of the program. It also ensures P2IRC technologies and processes are well positioned and address the needs of the Canada and the world.

The Committee advises on the relevance and real-world applicability of the technologies and commercial spin-offs of P2IRC such as field and aerial sensors, satellite imaging, robotics, big data analytics and more.

George is currently Manager of Regulatory and Government Affairs for BASF Canada Inc., as well as a member of the BASF AP Management Team. After completing undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Guelph, he was employed in the crop protection industry in various research and development roles. George has published numerous research reports and three peer-reviewed publications. During his tenure, George has contributed to the introduction of over 20 chemical and biological based crop protection products as well as crops of biotechnology. George is married with two grown children and resides in Guelph, Ontario.

As Vice President of Novozymes BioAg, Colin manages the company’s global business, ensuring sustainable growth for Novozymes and its partners. Colin is also a member of the Monsanto and Novozymes Alliance board and from 2010 to 2014, he worked in Novozymes BioAg Business Development and Account Management, which spanned North America, South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Prior to this, Colin worked in the retail and seed industry with several companies, including Pioneer, and spent close to 10 years in the crop protection industry with Syngenta. Colin holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan and is a Certified Crop Advisor. He is based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with his wife and two children.

Andrew Carson joined Draganfly Innovations in January 2016 as Customer Service and Training Lead. He focusses his time on outreach campaigns, flight training, demos, business development, and international services. Prior to joining Draganfly, Andrew earned his Bachelor of Commerce degree with distinction from the University of Saskatchewan. Andrew founded his own aerial services company in 2014 where he operated Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and gained valuable experience with Canadian flying regulations and program planning. Draganfly Innovations, established in 1998, is one of the world’s longest operational UAS companies and the inventor of the world’s first four-rotor remote-controlled helicopter in 2000. Draganfly has several world firsts, including the first UAS to save a person’s life and the first North American, federally approved, commercially manufactured UAS legal for use by Emergency Services in North America.

Devin Dubois is President of FieldSmart Inc. and Corporate Counsel to Western Group of Companies, and sits on John Deere’s Precision Ag Advisory Group and the Saskatchewan College of Dental Surgeons. Devin was born and raised as part of a family farm operation near Rosetown, Saskatchewan. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Calgary, a Masters in Communication from Ryerson and York Universities in Toronto, and a Law degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Devin practiced law in Saskatchewan for a number of years, serving primarily agriculture retailers, agricultural equipment vendors and ag-creditors. He served briefly as counsel to the Canada West Equipment Dealer’s Association before it merged with its American cousin to form the Western Equipment Dealer’s Association. As part of his legal practice, Devin helped three John Deere dealerships – Western Tractor in Alberta, Western Sales in Saskatchewan, and Enns Bros in Manitoba – establish a dealership-based agronomy group under the trade name FieldSmart.

An expert in international agriculture and sustainability issues, Dr. Marco Ferroni joined the Syngenta Foundation as its Executive Director in 2008 after a career in multilateral institutions and government. The Foundation’s mission is to modernize small-scale farming in low- and middle-income countries through sustainable intensification, diversification and the activation of value chains. The Foundation incubates scalable products and solutions, tests them and catalyzes uptake and dissemination through commercial partnerships. Focus areas include seed systems, agricultural insurance and finance, and farmer support services, including digital decision tools in agriculture. Before joining the Foundation, Dr. Marco Ferroni, a Swiss citizen with a PhD in agricultural economics from Cornell University, held executive and advisory positions, respectively, at the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank in Washington, DC.

Dr. Nadilia Gomez Raboteaux joined DuPont Pioneer in 2010 and has played various roles in multidisciplinary teams that design, develop and deploy digital ag solutions for breeding and farming. In 2013, she joined the Encirca® services team, and was a member of the team that launched the very first farmer-facing Encirca® Nitrogen service at Pioneer. Her curiosity and creativity has placed her at the epicenter of high-impact, high-risk projects where innovative solutions and prototypes are the norm. In 2015, Dr. Raboteaux served as the R&D Strategy lead for the Data Science and Informatics group supporting the Digital Services domain. Her keen ability to develop a shared-purpose, an actionable roadmap and a stimulating vision contributed to her success as a liaison connecting business needs, scientific discovery and software development initiatives. She is currently a research scientist on the Predictive Ag team and a key contributor in the development of a strategic vision for Digital Ag Solutions at Pioneer. Dr. Raboteaux graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Molecular Genetics and a Master of Science in Applied Plant Sciences.

Kevin has been in the agriculture field for the past 32 years and has spent his entire career with Viterra and its subsidiary companies. He is currently Manager of Special Projects reporting directly to the CEO. In this role, Kevin works closely with partners in the agricultural sector to ensure Viterra is involved in the appropriate investments and partnerships to position it for future growth. Prior to taking on this role Kevin was the Vice-President of Sales & Operations, leading the company’s Agri-Products Division which included over 260 retail outlets across Western Canada.



Bruce is a member of the senior leadership team for Agrium Retail (Crop Production Services Canada - CPS) and responsible for CPS’s canola, cotton, and rice breeding programs. He and his team also support CPS’s Loveland business (proprietary crop protection and crop nutritionals) with field characterization of focus products for the Canadian business. After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan, Bruce began his seed career with Canadian Seed Coaters. In 1991, Bruce joined United Grain Growers (Proven Seed) as Regional Sales Manager and has held progressively senior positions in seed, crop protection, and R&D. Bruce is currently on the board of directors for the Canadian Seed Trade Association and a member of CropLife Canada’s Biotech committee.

A senior research scientist and the Chief Scientific Officer of CanniMed Therapeutics Inc., Dr. Holbrook has more than 35 years of experience in research and application related to the genetic modification of crop plants with diverse agricultural biotechnology experience in both government and industry. Dr. Holbrook was an associate adjunct professor at the University of Calgary, Department of Biological Sciences from 1997 to 2003 and has authored or co-authored nearly 40 publications, reviews, or invited papers in international journals and books. His experience includes leadership roles in four agricultural biotechnology start-up companies in Canada, and he assisted in developing industry points to consider in white paper proposals for producing plant- made pharmaceuticals (PMPs). He has worked in the medical marijuana field for the past 13 years at the CanniMed, leading research developments plus associations with clinical studies initiatives and the QA/QC department functions. Dr. Holbrook holds BSc and MSc degrees and PhD in Neuropharmacology and Developmental Biology from the University of Toronto; he also did postdoctoral research at the UCLA School of Medicine, Brain Research Institute.

Dr. Steve Hunt is the CEO of Qubit Systems and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Science at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He completed his doctorate in photosynthesis research at the John Innes Center in the UK before moving to Queen’s University where he investigated the physiology of N2 fixation, respiration, and photosynthesis. Qubit’s equipment has been featured extensively in his research and teaching. Dr. Hunt collaborates with researchers and industrial partners in areas ranging from carbon sequestration to insect respirometry and human cardiovascular fitness. His association with Photon Systems Instruments of the Czech Republic and INRA (Dijon) of France has made available a range of novel phenotyping platforms and imaging technologies for both shoots and roots.

President and CEO of ISM Canada, Mark MacLeod, is an experienced organizational leader, consultant, and entrepreneur with over 28 years of executive experience within five different companies specializing in transformation and growth in traditional and knowledge-based organizations. Mark has won various awards throughout his career and has served on various committees and boards in the innovation, arts, and not-for-profit sector. Mark’s entrepreneurial spirit began in 1988 as he was the driving force behind a technology start-up company, Software 2000, that was sold to Systemhouse in 1997. In 2002, Mark was appointed the President and CEO of Information Services Corporation and for five years led the turnaround of this Crown corporation. A move to Saskatoon in 2008 provided Mark the opportunity to accept the role of President and CEO of Superior Cabinets, Western Canada’s largest manufacturer of designer kitchens and cabinets. Mark holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Regina. He lives with his wife Carla in Regina and has two grown daughters.

John Murphy, a graduate from the University of Alberta, is CEO and co-founder of Stream Technologies Inc., a startup in the photonics / analytics space. John has over 30 years of technology commercialization experience, including founding and growing multiple start-ups, a mix of successful exits, failures, and some too early to tell. He is active on several advisory boards, Chairman of nanocluster Alberta, is a local angel investor, and was on the founding board of the A100 Organization.

Originally from Iran, Dr. Katy Navabi moved to Canada in 2004 to complete a PhD in Plant Genetics and Breeding at the University of Alberta. In 2009, she joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on a postdoctoral research fellowship for three years where she learned more about molecular genetics. Dr. Navabi joined Cargill in 2013 as a Canola breeder. Today, she is developing elite canola inbred lines for commercial hybrid breeding, marketing for both seed and oil customers.

Dr. Oliver Peoples is President and CEO of Yield10 Bioscience and an experienced entrepreneur and biotechnology executive. Dr. Peoples co-founded Metabolix Inc. in 1992, an industrial biotechnology company where he was the Chief Scientific Officer, and is an inventor of the novel P4HB biomedical polymer currently being commercialized by Tepha Inc. He received a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1984. After moving to MIT, pioneering research carried out by Dr. Peoples established the vision and tools for using modern biotechnology methods for the production of biobased industrial products. Dr. Peoples has published numerous peer-reviewed academic papers and is an inventor on over 280 patents and applications worldwide.

Dominic’s career spans over 20 years in the field of international development, serving in leadership positions with the private and not-for-profit sectors and the United Nations, with assignments in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South and Southeast Asia. In his current role at GAIN, Dominic advises governments and businesses on evidence-based policies and blended capital approaches that take innovations with social impact to scale. He also established and led innovative finance partnerships with the Acumen Fund, International Finance Corporation, and LGT Venture Philanthropies in the areas of maternal, infant, and young child nutrition. Prior to joining GAIN, Dominic served as Nutrition Specialist at UNICEF in New York, and as Partnership and Business Development Manager at the Micronutrient Initiative (MI) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, and later led these efforts at IDRC’s regional office for Southern Africa, based in Johannesburg.

Dr. Steve Webb is a R&D Director responsible for External Technology and Intellectual Property Portfolio Development at Dow AgroSciences. He joined Dow AgroSciences Canada Inc. in 1996 as a Field R&D Scientists in 1996. In 1997, Dr. Webb joined a small team that established the Nexera canola breeding program and was responsible for building the R&D team and the registration of the first Omega-9 canola varieties. Dr. Webb relocated to Indianapolis in 2000 and became Project Success Leader for Animal Health & Nutrition. He led the effort that demonstrated the technical feasibility and registration of the first plant-made vaccines, ARC™ biologics and food safety antibodies. From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Webb led Advanced Technologies Discovery, including the effort to develop and deploy the EXZACT™ Precision Platform Technologies in corn, soybeans, canola and wheat. Dr. Webb represents Dow AgroSciences on several external Boards and Advisory Committees including the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute and Ag-West Bio Inc. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Guelph in 1990.  In 1992, he earned his Masters of Science in Biochemistry, followed by a Ph.D. in Immunochemistry in 1998, also from the University of Guelph.