Shannon Argent is a graduate of the Olds College Animal Health Technician program. She brings years of business management and livestock industry experience to her role as manager of the Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production at the College. During her varied career, she started and sold two successful businesses, worked as an embryologist and technician for Alta Genetics, and was the provincial Verified Beef Plus Coordinator for Alberta. She was a 4-H Beef leader in Cremona for many years, and has held various roles on numerous boards and committees, including as the current Chair for the Science Advisory Committee for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. To this day, she also continues to farm and ranch Northwest of Cremona with her husband, three children and parents.
David Bailey obtained his PhD in genetics and animal breeding from the University of Alberta in 1985. He began his career with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a research scientist in Lethbridge, Alberta and was later appointed to management postings as Research Centre Director in Charlottetown, P.E.I. and Lacombe, Alberta before his appointment as Director General in 2003. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has received several awards for excellence in research and transferring research into commercialization, including the CSAS’s Young Scientist Award and NRC-IRAP’s Federal Partners in Technology Transfer. His leadership profile also includes service on a number of advisory boards and committees such as Livestock Gentec (University of Alberta), Manning Innovation Awards Southern Chapter (AB), PrioNet Canada (founding member), and Alberta Prion Research Institute Management Board (founding member). David has also served as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University, and the University of Calgary (current). David joined Genome Alberta as the President and CEO in April 2006. In less than 10 years he has built the organization into a vibrant and effective team that has partnered with key Alberta sectors to help deliver genomic solutions to real challenges.
John Basarab received his PhD in Animal Genetics and Biochemistry in 1981 from the University of Alberta. As Senior Research Scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, he has over 25 years of experience in beef cattle production and management. Current areas of work include improving feed efficiency, delivering genomic and production technologies to the beef industry, and investigating greenhouse gas mitigation in beef cattle. John is an Adjunct Professor at the universities of Alberta and Manitoba, member of the senior management team of Livestock Gentec, and former Associate Editor for the Canadian Journal of Animal Science. He is also the author or co-author of over 300 scientific and extension articles, and the winner of the 2010 Canadian Animal Industries Award in Extension and Public Service.
Stanford Blade is Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (ALES) at the University of Alberta. Born in Alberta, Canada where he was raised on a dairy and grain farm, Stan attended the University of Alberta for his first degree (B.Sc.) in genetics and obtained his M.Sc. (Crop Science) from the University of Saskatchewan for a breeding/physiology study on wheat. His doctorate was awarded by McGill University (Montreal, Canada) for work done at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture on a Canadian International Development Agency PhD Scholarship. He is a 2012 graduate of the Wharton Business School’s Executive Development Program (University of Pennsylvania). Stan has served as Chief Executive Officer of the Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions Corporation (AI Bio), a provincial government agency that leads and coordinates science and innovation to grow prosperity in Alberta’s agriculture, food and forestry sectors. During his tenure, he led AI Bio’s five priorities: 1) sustainable production, 2) quality food for health, 3) prion diseases, 4) ecosystem services and 5) building the bioeconomy. Stan’s expertise has been recognized through his invitations to participate in research reviews conducted by the European Union, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Food and Agriculture Organization, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. He has served on the Boards of the TELUS World of Science, the Edmonton Public Library and CHF – Partners in Rural Development (an international NGO).Stan was named by Alberta Venture as one of “Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People” in 2012 and was appointed by the Minister of International Cooperation (Government of Canada) to the governing body of the Canada International Food Security Research Fund in 2013.
Jelle-Pier (JP) Brouwer is the producer and Chair of the Alberta Milk Research Committee. His family immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in 1991, and run a dairy farm in Ponoka, AB that employs his three brothers and father as well as a number of employees. They milk 350 lactating cows and are expanding to 450. The Brouwers use sand-bedded free-stalls for their lactating herd, and a sand reclamation system that recycles and reclaims around 90-95% of the sand. They have also renovated their dry-animal housing to increase herd comfort. JP and his siblings were encouraged to pursue life off the farm for a while, so he took a university degree in business. Eventually he came back to the farm and has taken over many management duties from his father, which challenged him to learn and improve from the get-go. There have been many healthy discussions on how to best progress into the future. He is also involved with Alberta Milk, especially on the Research and Extension Advisory Committee. Research has always been a passion. Progress in the industry requires constant new discovery and he looks forward to engaging wherever possible to advance the industry.
Dr. David Chalack is a veterinarian whose career has moved from veterinary practice to executive management and consulting. The One Health Initiative is the foundation from which his professional career is crafted—this dependent relationship linking the environment, animal health and human health as it relates to sustainable growth. He is a widely respected expert in the meat and livestock industry, with particular interests in sustainable practices and how the industry uses land and water. Dr. Chalack has been Chair of the Board of ALMA for the past six years. ALMA is a catalyst organization whose role is to help the Alberta livestock and meat sector grow and prosper. He is currently the international sales manager for Alta Genetics Inc., a job that has taken him to South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe, as well as across Canada. He is also president and part owner of Rocky Mountain Holsteins, Inc., and an official judge for Holstein Canada. Dr. Chalack chairs the ministerial advisory board of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. He also sits on the boards of several organizations, including the Canadian Dairy Network, and chairs the Calgary Economic Alberta Ingenuity Centre Livestock Gentec, and the Alberta Economic Development Authority. Formerly, he served as president and board chair of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, and as a director on the boards of Horse Racing Alberta, the Calgary Zoological Society. He is now chair of the Calgary Economic Development subcommittee on agri-food and agri-food processing, and was a member of the dean’s advisory council for the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. As recognition for his 30 years spent advancing Canadian agriculture domestically and internationally, Dr. Chalack was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2011.
Janice Cooke is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. She received her BSc from the University of Victoria, then spent some time as a technician at the Weyerhaeuser Technology Centre in the US before completing her PhD at the University of Alberta. She went on to a postdoc at the University of Florida, and was a research associate at Université Laval before returning to the University of Alberta in 2005. The Cooke lab investigates how forest trees respond to environmental factors like pests, pathogens, drought, cold and day length to identify genes that are important for trees to respond to these cues. Janice and her group participate in a number of large-scale research projects, collaborating with geneticists to discover genes controlling adaptive traits like pest and pathogen resistance. Currently, Janice is Director of the TRIA Mountain Pine Beetle NSERC Strategic Network, and is Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tree Physiology.
John Crowley is Director of Scientific and Industry Advancement with the Canadian Beef Breeds Council (CBBC), an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta, and also takes part in the research activities of Livestock Gentec. Originally from Ireland, John grew up on a mixed dairy and beef operation. He received his PhD in Animal Breeding and Genetics in 2010 from University College Dublin. After working with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation as a geneticist, he joined Livestock Gentec in 2011. With both CBBC and Gentec, he undertakes research and applications pertaining to genetic improvement and evaluation, and is involved in projects developing the use of genomics for breeding and management.
Michael Dyck obtained a B.Sc. (Agri.) with distinction from the University of Manitoba, and pursued graduate studies at the University of Guelph where he obtained a MSc. with a specialization in reproductive physiology. He then went on to work in the field of artificial insemination in swine at First Choice Genetics in Woodstock, Ontario and later at ReproMed Ltd. in Toronto, Canada's largest human sperm banking facility. He enrolled in Laval University's PhD program where he was a FCAR and NSERC Scholar. During his Doctoral training, Mike conducted research into the use of transgenesis to alter physiological traits in swine. On completing his PhD, he joined TGN Biotech Inc., in Quebec City as an NSERC Industrial Research Fellow, and eventually assumed the position of Director of Transgenics and Cell Biology for this company. Mike then joined of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta in 2004, and has been conducting research focused on the development and application of molecular techniques and reproductive technologies with the pork production industry, to improve breeding efficiency in swine. He was co-lead on the Pan-Canadian NSERC Strategic Research Network “EmbryoGENE" efforts to address the effects of reproductive technologies and maternal factors on embryo quality in swine. He is leading the Genome Canada Large Scale Applied Research Project on the genomics of swine health.
Rollie Dykstra is VP Investments at Alberta Innovates. He has over 30 years of experience in the information and communications technology sector and in business development roles, both in industry and government. A former sales executive with NORTEL, TELUS Communications and Williams Communications, Rollie works on business development with high tech companies, helping to move research to commercialization. Rollie focuses on building the knowledge-based sectors of Alberta’s economy, primarily in high tech, but also encourages and supports regional innovation throughout the province. Rollie specializes in building the relationships and pursuing research collaborations and business development that accelerate innovation for the province.
Steven Jones gained his PhD at the Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK in 1999, where he was involved in the C. elegans genome project. He has played a role in numerous genome projects, including that of the human, mouse, rat, bovine, fruit fly and the SARS coronavirus. Currently, he is Head of Bioinformatics and Co-Director of the Genome Sciences Centre at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver. Dr. Jones's major research focus is in the computational analysis of DNA sequence and the analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data. In healthcare research, he has applied next-generation DNA sequencing technology to detect mutations in patient samples and cancer cell lines of various cancer types, and under the influence of different therapeutics. A key goal is to develop bioinformatic approaches to predict the most efficacious therapies from patient tumour samples to help guide clinical decision making. In 2014 and 2016, Thomson Reuters named him one of the world's most influential researchers, being in the top 1% of cited scientists.
Stephen Morgan Jones left Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in 2014, after 10 years at the Director General level with various responsibilities including Research Centre Science Management, management of innovation programs and the AAFC national business and commercialization office. He was responsible for more than $100M of annual research investments in crop, livestock, food and bio-products. Prior to this, he was a Research Centre Director and scientist with AAFC and a Professor at the University of Guelph. He has published 170 scientific papers and received a number of national and international awards including a Queen’s Jubilee Medal from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. Dr. Morgan Jones currently advises on large-scale project development, review of research programs, organizational change and strategic direction. He chairs the Board of Livestock Gentec, is a board member of Genome Alberta and on research committees for Alberta Agriculture and Food and NSERC strategic networks.
An integral component of Alberta’s innovation system, Alberta Innovates offers the opportunity to accelerate development of new knowledge and products that can be significant to Alberta. As an Executive Director at Alberta Innovates, Dr. Cornelia Kreplin is engaged in activities that are designed to grow prosperity of the agriculture, food and forestry sectors. This includes investment in research and innovation that contributes to sustainable livestock, crop and forest production; food safety and the development of new ingredients, foods, beverages and bioactives. Cornelia works with others to define future opportunities and connects people who can collaboratively build on their respective strengths. Cornelia’s training in veterinary medicine led to her career with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. She served as the provincial reproductive pathologist and later as Alberta’s first Chief Provincial Veterinarian before accepting the challenge of building a Food Safety Division for the Ministry in 1999. Later, as Executive Director of Agriculture Research Division, Cornelia enabled staff to participate in development of new information or products for Alberta’s primary agricultural producers. An interim assignment as General Manager of Agricultural Products Marketing Council allowed Cornelia to remain in touch with the opportunities and challenges facing Alberta’s agriculture industries. Cornelia now applies what she has learned from these experiences to her position at Alberta Innovates.
Nicky joined GrowSafe in 2017 and is currently responsible for conducting data analysis and working on research projects. Nicky has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, and she is currently completing her Master’s in Animal Science, both from the University of Alberta. During her Master’s, Nicky studied performance and methane emissions of RFI-selected cattle in drylot and on pasture. Nicky has received several prestigious academic scholarships and awards including the Canadian Hereford Association’s 2016 Prize for Beef Cattle Innovation. Growing up on a mixed farm, and spending several summers working on a feedlot, has given Nicky practical skills and a true appreciation for the beef industry.
Josie Van Lent is the Dean of Agriculture Sciences at Lakeland College in Vermilion. She and her husband are also partners in Staden Farms, a commercial livestock and grain farm, with bison, beef and grain enterprises. Josie spent the first half of her career working for Alberta Agriculture, Food & Rural Development as a District Agriculturist and Beef Specialist. Following that, she was employed in the crop service industry as an agronomist with Webb's Crop Services in Vermilion. She moved on from Webb's to manage the crop input division for the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) in northeastern Alberta and then on to Lakeland College. Josie is President of the Canadian Association of Diploma Agriculture Programs. She is also a member of the University of Alberta's Rangeland Research Institute's Advisory Council.
Tim McAllister was raised on a mixed cow-calf operation in Innisfail Alberta. He obtained his MSc in Animal Biochemistry at the University of Alberta, and his PhD in rumen microbiology and nutrition from the University of Guelph in 1991. After an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary, he held appointments in technical, biology and science positions, and was promoted to Principal Research Scientist in 2005. Tim leads a diverse research team studying various areas of beef research. He has participated and led projects that relate to antimicrobial resistance in beef cattle production systems since 1997. Tim has authored over 500 papers, and is a recipient of the Pfizer Young Scientist Award, the Canadian Animal Industries Award in Extension and Public, the Elanco Award for the Production of Safe and Affordable Food, the Shurgain Award for Excellence in Meat Science and Nutrition, the American Feed Industry Research Award, Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal and the Governor General's award for Excellence in the public service. He was also a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President, Al Gore.
Tanya McDonald has worked at Olds College for 17 years, and serves as the Vice President, Research and External Relations. In this role, she focuses on fostering relationships and constructive agreements with academic institutions, government, industry, entrepreneurs, small businesses and community leaders. She is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction for the Centre for Innovation, Olds College Farm, Continuing Education, Communications and Marketing, Community and Alumni Relations, Special Events and Broncos Athletics. She is a member of the Olds Rotary Club, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Olds and District Chamber of Commerce and the Olds Institute. Tanya holds a MSc. Degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Calgary.
As the Research Partnerships Promotion Officer for the NSERC Prairies Regional Office, Tricia Meaud coordinates regional promotion and delivery of Connect Grants and Experience Awards. She is responsible for outreach to Prairie companies and undergraduate students eligible for Experience Awards, and she coordinates efforts to increase awareness of Connect Grants with the post-secondary community and industry organizations. Tricia is also responsible for reviewing applications for Connect Grants and Experience Awards in the region. Tricia began her career with Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development as a Research Assistant and Project Manager. She subsequently administered several funding programs at the Agriculture and Food Council and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA). After moving to Manitoba, Tricia worked as a Research Assistant with the Rural Development Institute at Brandon University. Prior to joining NSERC in 2016, Tricia was a Service Innovation Specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, where she also worked as a Program Officer on several Growing Forward 2 programs. Tricia has a BSc in Human Ecology from the University of Alberta, and is a Professional Home Economist in Manitoba.
Michelle Miller completed her BSc in Molecular Genetics from the University of Alberta and Masters of Science in Human Genetics from McGill University. During this time, she participated in a 16-month internship at the Alberta Research Council (currently, Alberta Innovates),a one-year student exchange program at the University of London, and studied in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, for a summer. Previous work experience was in Canada and the United States, researching various genetic conditions. Michelle completed her MBA at the University of Alberta in 2015. At Delta Genomics, Michelle was hired as technical staff in 2012 where she sequenced over 300 influential bulls as part of the Canadian Cattle Genome Project. Once she began her MBA part-time, she was promoted to Director of Operations in 2014and became responsible for the laboratory's operations, specifically process improvement and optimization, financial management, customer service, and human resource activities. In her current role as CEO, Michelle is working towards expanding the use of genomic technologies in the commercial cattle sector.
Professor Graham Plastow is Chief Executive Officer of the Livestock Gentec Centre (funded by Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency). The Centre focusses on the development, implementation and adoption of genomics-based solutions for the livestock industry to help Canada's food industry satisfy consumer demand for safe, healthy, quality meat produced in a sustainable manner. Dr. Plastow joined the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta in 2007, recognizing that the expertise and industry in Western Canada represented an opportunity to create a world-leading program across livestock species. Before this, he was Chief Technology Officer at Sygen International (one of the world's largest animal breeding companies when it was acquired by Genus in 2005/06). A pioneer of the application of genomics in livestock, Dr. Plastow trained in Biology and Genetics at the University of Leicester. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the management and implementation of multidisciplinary research projects and technology transfer on an international basis. He has led or participated in numerous international research collaborations and has held positions on boards and committees of industry and research organizations, including the Roslin Institute, the Genesis Faraday Partnership (now the Biosciences Knowledge Transfer Network, UK), and the Biotechnology Research and Development Organization in the US. Together with John Harding (WCVM) and Bob Kemp (PigGen Canada), Dr. Plastow leads the Genome Canada project on the genomics of swine health, which focusses on PRRS and PCVAD. He is also Director at Delta Genomics, a member of the Board of Directors of the NSERC Strategic Research Network EmbryoGENE and of BIO, as well as being a member of the Dairy Cattle Genetics Research and Development (DairyGen) Council and the Genetics Committee of the Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement.
Joe Schwarcz is Director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society, which is dedicated to demystifying science and separating sense from nonsense. He is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from the chemistry of love to the science of aging. Professor Schwarcz has received numerous awards for teaching chemistry and for interpreting science for the public. He is the only non-American to win the American Chemical Society's prestigious Grady-Stack Award for demystifying chemistry. He hosts "The Dr. Joe Show" on Montreal radio, has appeared hundreds of times on television and is the author of 16 best sellers. Also an amateur conjurer, Dr. Joe often spices up his presentations with a little magic.
Dr. Tad Sonstegard is Chief Scientific Officer of Acceligen, a food-animal genetics subsidiary of Recombinetics, where he leads business development and research efforts dedicated to livestock improvement around the world. The main focus is to apply advanced precision breeding or genome editing to improve livestock genetics in a way that promotes sustainability and animal welfare. Previously, he led a livestock genomics research program at the USDA, ARS Beltsville that delivered many applications in germplasm conservation and genetic improvement for livestock, including the first commercially successful, ag-based SNP tool. He also identified the causative variation affecting fertility and thermo-tolerance in cattle and has led consortia to generate genome assemblies of the water buffalo, goat, Zebu cattle, and an expression atlas of cattle. Dr. Sonstegard received his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and his PhD from the University of Minnesota. He has published 187 peer-reviewed articles, and received award recognition for his work in improving livestock genetics through genomics research.
Dr. Timsit obtained his DVM degree with honors from the University of Liège (Belgium) in 2006. Afterwards, he did a residency for the European College of Bovine Health Management (ECBHM) combined with a PhD on Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) and epidemiology at the Nantes-Atlantic College of Veterinary Medicine (France). In 2012, Dr. Timsit joined the University of Calgary (Canada) as an Assistant Professor in Cattle Health, where he developed a research program on pathogenesis, detection, diagnosis and treatment of BRD. In addition to his research and teaching at the University of Calgary, Dr Timsit works as a feedlot consultant one day per week at Feedlot Health Management Services (Okotoks, Canada).
William Torres hails from Laredo, Texas, where his family has been ranching and farming since 1708. A graduate from Texas A&M University, he holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Animal Science, Biology and Physics. His former positions include research supervisor for the Texas Veterinary Medical College at TAMU, and assistant director for Global Laboratories for Sexing Technologies. He is currently the cattle manager for Cattleland Feedyards and research co-manager for the Integrated Research Beef Station at Cattleland Feedyards Ltd. (IBRS-CFL) where, since 2008, the research team has managed 48 contract research projects with over 88,000 head of cattle, completed 19 published research trials for various clients and 7 corporate research reports. IBRS-CFL has extensive experience with genomics research and has collected data on nearly 76,000 head of cattle. Its feeding and health programs are unique and include individual animal data and cattle raised without the use of added hormones and liquid health. The Cattleland National Bull Evaluation Centre on the feedlot site is the largest of its kind in the world, with a capacity of 5,000 head of superior sires.
Doug and Linda Wray along with Tim and Joanne Wray operate the Wray Ranch at Irricana on land first farmed by Doug’s grandfather in 1910. Until 1985, the farm was a mixed farm. Now they run a forage-focused, year-round grazing plan, moving cattle through high legume-tame pastures in summer, stockpiled native range from November to January, and swath-grazing to grass in May. Since 2005, they have worked to improve their beef genetics to better harvest the energy in the forages on the ranch. They had a primarily red herd with Red Angus and M2 Beefbooster influence. They have used Black Angus and recently Black Simmental, both natural service and through AI, with a goal of having a fertile productive cow herd from which to pull replacement heifers while generating feeder cattle that perform above industry averages. In 2008, the ranch began using Herdtrax with Dr Troy Drake to capture herd data and measure progress. They retained ownership in many feeder cattle to get productivity information through to carcass data. More recently, they have DNA on the 2015 and 2016 calf crops and some feed efficiency data that have begun to provide a genetic picture of the herd.
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