News

23 Nov, 2018

NewsScholarships in global food security could lead to important discoveries in agriculture and health

Two University of Saskatchewan (USask) graduate students from China have been awarded scholarships to work on research projects that could improve crop production and develop innovative quality products from crops.

The Dr. Donald Baxter Scholarship in Global Food Security, valued at $40,000 each year to study at the U of S under the supervision of a Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) researcher, were made possible by a $1-million gift from Dr. Patrick Man Pan Yuen, a distinguished pediatrician and USask alumnus living in Hong Kong.

The scholarships reward achievement and recognize graduate students from the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong interested in research and study in areas including biology, plant sciences, soil science, computer science, genomic sciences, biotechnology, food health and nutrition, and agriculture and agri-food policy.

Yujie Pei, who is studying under David Schneider, GIFS Research Chair in Digital and Computational Agriculture, received an undergraduate degree in mathematics and applied mathematics from Henan Normal University. She came to Canada from Luoyang, China in September 2018 to work on a master’s degree in the School of Environment and Sustainability. Her research could lead to new mathematical methods that researchers can use to evaluate, track and select developed root traits to improve crop production.

“I am very grateful to Dr. Yuen and to GIFS for giving me this opportunity to study here,”  said Pei. “I am looking forward to working on my research with my supervisor and continuing to learn in my studies and research.”

Yujie Pei, Masters Student, Seed and Developmental Biology, Global Institute for Food Security 

Originally from Guangdong, China, Ziliang Song came to Canada after receiving a Bachelor of Engineering in food quality and safety from Jinan University in 2013. He has a Master’s in plant sciences and is currently pursuing a PhD under the supervision of Tim Sharbel, GIFS Research Chair in Seed Biology and Martin Reaney in the Department of Plant Science.

Song is studying flax orbitides which have great potential to be developed for agricultural and pharmaceutical applications because of their diversity, stability and functionality. While preliminary studies have revealed some evidence of health benefis such as antitumor and antiviral, a lot of questions remain to be answer on their physiological role in the plant itself. A further understanding of this class of small circular protein will ultimately help make better use of the orbitides.

“This scholarship represents a great incentive to my future study here,” said Song. “The scholarship means far more than a financial award to me, but it will help me overcome the stress from intensive study and the frustration from research setbacks. I feel much encouraged to keep up with my research work towards our mission for global food security.”

Ziliang Song, PhD Student, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Yuen named the scholarship fund in memory of his mentor Dr. Donald Baxter, who taught Yuen neurology when he was a medical student at USask. GIFS is matching the awards through an annual contribution over 25 years.

L to R: Yujie Pei, Dr. Maurice Moloney, and Ziliang Song 

Learn more about the Dr. Donald Baxter Scholarships in Global Food Security, click here