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Inaugural year for Agri-Food Excellence Symposium

Tim Benton and Evan Fraser in The Grow Room

Finding balance and an interdisciplinary approach to agri-food sustainability. These were two key messages that resonated across two and a half days of talks, research displays and presentations, panels, and discussions during the inaugural Agri-Food Excellence Symposium at the University of Guelph. The event culminated with a talk from 2018 World Food Prize Winner, David Nabarro.

Food from Thought and the Arrell Food Institute partnered to deliver the event, which was situated in the heart of Ontario’s food and innovation corridor at Canada’s Food University. The Symposium convened more than 150 Canadian and international thought leaders and industry representatives for collaborative talks, discussions, and research dissemination.

Moving Conversations Forward

Speakers at the event included world-renowned scientists, industry leaders and policymakers from Canada and around the world. These included representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, University of Saskatchewan, Maple Leaf Foods, Community Food Centres Canada, ALUS Canada, IBM Canada, and of course, right here at the University of Guelph, among other respected industry and international research institutions.

University of Guelph Innovation

Nearly 30 University of Guelph speakers supported plenary panels and concurrent sessions at the Symposium. Speakers spanned food systems expertise from landscape to micro scales, sustainability in farm management practices, resiliency in our systems and our communities, and more.

Internationally Renowned Keynotes

Three global leaders in agri-food provided thought-provoking keynotes during the Symposium:

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension Specialist in the field of Animal Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at University of California, Davis.

Professor Tim Benton, Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives at the University of Leeds and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Energy, Environment and Resources Department at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, UK.

Dr. David Nabarro, Professor of Global Health at the Imperial College London and supports systems leadership for sustainable development through his Switzerland-based social enterprise 4SD.

Research Showcase

The Agri-Food Excellence Symposium brought together displays from each of the seven colleges at the University of Guelph, as well as from other initiatives and offices on campus. These included a malaise trap from the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics within the College of Biological Science; Dairy at Guelph information and a controlled environment systems display from Ontario Agricultural College; a recipe and recipe books from the Guelph Family Health Study within the College of Social & Applied Human Sciences; an interactive display from the Longo’s Food Retail Lab within the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics; The Grow Room with support from the College of Arts; a virtual tour of the Elora Research Station – Dairy Facility with the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance; engaging visual displays from Ontario Veterinary College and College of Physical and Engineering Science; and touch screen displays from graduate research student projects.

Two attendees look at screen and grocery shelf display

Research showcase during opening reception on June 24

Student Engagement

Nearly 40 highly qualified personnel at the University of Guelph entered an infographic poster competition. Participants were challenged to showcase research excellence and transmit critical research information while using plain language and enticing visuals. The winners were presented with their first, second, third, and people’s choice awards at the next day’s dinner event. Our three poster competition winners were George Hall, Matthew Dallner, Jingjing Wang, and Nicole Berardi, respectively.