Why I chose Guelph
While working a Co-op position at the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in British Columbia a research magazine that focused on the challenges of growing plants on the moon and mars came across my desk. As an undergrad student that focused on plant science, I found the entire concept extremely intriguing and knew it would involve combining plant science with advanced sensor technology. To my surprise, my co-op supervisor at the time knew the principle investigator from the magazine cover and promptly introduced us. A few months later, I flew across the country and started an MSc program at the facility described in the magazine, the University of Guelph's Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility. The relationships I built with supervisors and technicians during the MSc program combined with the innovative controlled environment research chambers unique to our facility enticed me to pursue the PhD program.
Words of advice
I was always curious about the prospect of grad school but was concerned about having to go further into student loan debt. As an undergraduate student, I had no idea that graduate programs offer stipends to help cover the cost of living and tuition. My entire MSc program was paid for through the graduate stipend, teaching assistant positions, and a few scholarships. Apply to every scholarship you are eligible for/you can find! Even if you think you have a small chance of actually winning the process of preparing all the required documents only speeds up your next application!
How will my work Improve Life?
My research will create an optimal environment condition recipe for the production of bush bean (green bean) within a vertical farming system. Over the next three years I will be determining the optimal temperature, humidity, light intensity, light spectra, CO2 concentration required in these controlled systems to optimize the amount of fruit produced and its nutritional quality. Once the optimal environment condition recipe is created, it can be replicated within large scale vertical farms that could be placed in cities across Canada. These vertical farming systems will create a new source of high quality plant based protein for the millions of Canadians that suffer from food insecurity.
My future plans
Currently I am torn between becoming a research scientist for industry or for the government but the next three years in the PhD program will help me make this decision. Regardless of where I end up, I believe that the skills I have learned while in the MSc and PhD programs will be transferable to any position. The connections made through research presentations, networking events, and supervisors have already introduced me to some of the most highly regarded professionals in my field. My future career prospects have never looked brighter.