Funded Research Projects

Funded Research Chairs

Dr. David Natcher

GIFS Research Chair
(Social Dimensions of Food Security)

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Dr. David Natcher

To learn more about Dr. Natcher, click here.   Natcher’s research sites are located in northern Benin, India, Chile, and Saskatchewan. While remarkably diverse, each project site is situated in regions rich in cultural and biological diversity. These same regions also share common threats from globalization and climate induced environmental changes that are placing at risk the livelihoods of agriculturally based communities. Through a network of collaborative partnerships, Natcher’s research is examining how vulnerabilities and disturbance events are threatening local food systems, and also the adaptive capacity of households and communities to maintain or regain resilience in local food systems.

Dr. Stuart Smyth

Assistant Professor, Industry Funded
Research Chair in Agri-Food Innovation

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Dr. Stuart Smyth

To learn more about Dr. Smyth, click here.   Smyth’s objective is to implement a research program that quantifies and qualifies the economic and environmental benefits of biotechnology enhanced crops in Canada and evaluates Canada’s regulatory system for such crops.

Funded Research Projects

Development of innovative therapeutic food products for treating malnutrition and responding to emergencies within high risk communities

Lead Researcher: Dr. Michael Nickerson, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences, University of Saskatchewan and Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Chair

To learn more about Dr. Nickerson, please click here.

The overall aim of this research is to develop a variety of therapeutic food (TF) products, using pulse and cereal flours/concentrates that are fortified with vitamins and minerals and other bioactive constituents, that could be used to treat moderately acute malnutrition within high risk communities.

The project is partnering with Mekelle University located in Northern Ethiopia to reach nutritionally vulnerable communities as a case study. All TF products will be designed according to World Food Program (WFP) guidelines, will be economically and commercially viable, and will be culturally acceptable. However, in contrast to other current TF products, those developed will be free of GMOs and common allergens (i.e., soy or corn), and use locally grown raw materials (cereals, pulses). The project will also investigate the socioeconomic, policy and supply chain factors that impede or facilitate the use of TF products in addressing food security. The multi-disciplinary team will work with NGOs, industry, institutions (academia) and the WFP to ensure technology transfer occurs within the nutritionally vulnerable communities, in order to promote sustainable food security solutions.

Developing Camelina sativa as modern crop platform

Lead Researcher: Dr. Isobel Parkin, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Adjunct Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan

To learn more about Dr. Parkin, please click here.

This project focuses on the development of Camelina as a platform for the generation of high quality program, energy and industrial products. Camelina is well suited to Canadian agriculture since it performs well in poor soils, requires fewer inputs compared to food crops, is naturally resistant to many pests, diseases, and environmental stresses, and is compatible with existing farming practices and rotations.

Camelina is currently being developed as a source of bio-fuel and bio-lubricants. The project will support the development of camelina as an economically viable bioplatform by developing a plan for its global acceptance that will define future breeding goals. The project will identify currently limiting variation from worldwide collections of camelina germplasm and through the exploitation of related species, providing essential tools and materials for camelina breeding. This collaborative project brings together researchers from the disciplines of genetics, breeding and socio-economic research, based at the University of Saskatchewan, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and in the private sector.

Effect of Biofortified Lentils on Iron and Selenium Status

Lead Researcher: Dr. Albert (Bert) Vandenberg, Professor, Plant Sciences and Crop Development Centre and NSERC Industrial Research Chair, University of Saskatchewan

To learn more about Dr. Vandenberg, please click here.

Micronutrient deficiency is a form of malnutrition and a recognized food security and public health problem in many developing countries. Biofortification, a method to enhance micronutrient levels in food crops through plant breeding, is considered to be a more sustainable, cost-effective way to combat micronutrient deficiency.

Lentils are a dietary staple in the Indo-Gangetic plain of South Asia. Canada has recently emerged as the world’s leading pulse exporter, and a majority of lentil production takes place in Saskatchewan. Therefore, a tremendous opportunity exists for Saskatchewan lentils to be part of a whole-food based, sustainable solution to the global problem of micronutrient deficiency.

The goal of this research is to confirm the health benefits of consuming Saskatchewan lentils in terms of improving iron and selenium status and productivity measures in vulnerable populations, and translating the results into strategies for reducing food insecurity in Bangladesh. For iron, a pilot study will be conducted to address compliance and logistical issues, then a large-scale efficacy trial will be conducted to confirm the positive effects of biofortified lentil consumption in adolescent females. For selenium, an efficacy study will be conducted to investigate the role of consuming high-selenium lentil in the reversal of arsenic toxicity.