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AG e-news April 8, 2020

April 8, 2020 — 

News and events from the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences

Dean’s Message on COVID-19

As Canada and the whole world continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to let you know that the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and the wider University of Manitoba community are committed to the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff members. I am also mindful of how difficult these times are for you – our colleagues, friends, alumni, collaborators, industry partners, and our wider community.

We are all responsible for taking actions to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19. The University of Manitoba has followed advice from federal and provincial health authorities, and has responded in several ways to this disruption. Our goal is to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, so that we can all emerge from this crisis as soon as possible. You can see updates on the UM Coronavirus Update page at  We recognize that this course of action creates its own set of challenges as we conduct our educational and research mission.

I’d like to share some of what the Faculty has done to help “flatten the curve”.  All University of Manitoba campus buildings are now closed with only limited access to employees deemed as essential. All academic and support staff are working remotely. The Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre is also closed and all programs are suspended temporarily.

In terms of our educational programs, we have successfully transitioned to online only offerings of our courses and are in the process of developing online assessments (e.g. assignments, exams) to ensure our students complete their Winter term courses.  Thanks to a major effort by our professors and instructors, along with our IT staff, our students have been attending their classes remotely since March 18. At this time, it is anticipated that there will be no in-person classes until September 2020.  Sadly, Spring Convocation for both our diploma and degree students has been cancelled, but we are hoping to help our graduands celebrate it in new and creative ways.

Research programs and activities have been closely examined to ensure that we minimize the risk to not only our students, staff and academic members, but also to members of external communities who they interact with (even if it is under carefully regulated conditions). Researchers are continuing their research remotely, but only limited research is continuing in university research facilities, including at off-campus research sites. We are communicating with the Vice President (Research and International) as needed to determine how continuing research can be accomplished, and in particular, how the upcoming field season might still be achieved while maximizing safety for staff, students and external communities. In this regard, we are also communicating with other agricultural deans across the country. We thank everyone for their understanding as we work through this deliberation.

This disruption comes at a particularly critical juncture in our students’ studies and summer employment. While working toward the end of a rigorous term, they have also had to learn to study in a new way, navigate job losses, and figure out how to pay for rent and groceries. The University has begun offering emergency, needs-based bursaries to students through the COVID-19 UM Student Emergency Fund. Those of you who are able and would like to support our students, please do so at

In closing, I would like to thank you all for doing what you can in your lives and communities to ease the stress on our healthcare system and on our frontline workers.  I know that it is not easy to do this, but I can assure you that even in this new “remote” model, we are accomplishing important work.  I encourage us to continue looking out for and taking care of each other as we go about our work and our daily activities. 

Take care

Martin Scanlon, C&G, PhD
Dean, Faculty of Agricultural & Food Sciences
University of Manitoba



All in-person seminars and events are cancelled or postponed. Visit the Faculty’s Events Calendar to keep up to date – and follow us on Twitter at

Want to catch up on the Faculty seminar series? Check it out at



The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences mourns the passing of alumnus and former staff member Vern McNair (BSA/51) who died on March 11, 2020. Read a profile of Vern which appeared in the Faculty’s Times of their lives centennial publication –

A number of awards were presented at Degree Grads Farewell on March 7. FASO major awards went to students Patrick Le Heiget and Noah de Rocquigny, and minor awards went to Willem Boersma and Jordan Randell. The John Roth Memorial Award, given to a student who has demonstrated leadership and community involvement, has promoted faculty spirit and encouraged student involvement in faculty events, and has demonstrated a commitment to Agriculture, was presented to Noah de Rocquigny (diploma) and Patrick Le Heiget (degree). The graduating class selected Rob Duncan, Plant Science, as Professor of the Year.

Dickson Tran, Soil Science M.Sc. student supervised by Don Flaten, received third prize for his oral presentation in the graduate student competition at the Soils and Crops conference in Saskatoon in March.  This annual workshop is a two-day event presenting updates on current research being conducted in the areas of soils, crops and economics by researchers, faculty and graduate students from across western Canada.

Joyce Slater, Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, led the launch of the Winnipeg Food Atlas ( on February 5. 

Joyce also attended the Manitoba School Nutrition Annual Meeting on February 13 where she presented on the FANLit (Food and Nutrition Literacy) knowledge portal –, and the FANS (Food and Nutrition Security for Youth) research project.

Joyce attended the “Best Brains Exchange” meeting “Developing a tool to measure adherence to Canada’s new Food Guide” hosted by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in collaboration with Health Canada on March 12. 

Martin Nyachoti, Animal Science attended the 2020 ADSA-ASAS Midwest Annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska from March 2-4 where he gave an invited presentation on “Opportunities to use low protein diets for weanling pigs to improve intestinal health” at the Baker Amino Acid Symposium.

Jordan Bannerman, Entomology, presented a talk entitled “2020 Manitoba Insect Outlook” at the Deerwood Soil and Water Management Association AGM in Altamont, MB, on March 5.

Kateryn Rochon, Entomology, spoke about ticks to members of Nature Manitoba on February 25 and to the Seniors Alumni group on February 26. 

Kateryn also gave a webinar (with Shaun Dergousoff AAFC-Lethbridge) on ectoparasite control of beef cattle for the Beef Cattle Research Council webinar series on March 12. 

Kateryn was also one of several entomologists interviewed for a video documentary on climate change and Lyme disease available on the Climate Atlas of Canada website:  Direct link to video: “A Ticking Clock: Lyme disease, climate change, and public health” (

Rob Currie, Entomology, and his students presented their research on varroa mites and viruses to the Annual Meeting of the Manitoba Beekeepers Association in Winnipeg on February 29.

Kristen Matwychuk from the Farm and Food Discovery Centre (FFDC), and Jay Bourcier, Gemmar Maramot and Adekunle Onakomaiya from the Glenlea Research Station (GRS) attended the Manitoba Egg Farmers Annual General Meeting on March 4. FFDC and GRS were featured in MEF’s 2019 Annual Report on partnership activities such as Open Farm Day, Food from the Land Day and MEF’s annual Eggstravaganza open house.

The Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals milling room was approved by the province as a Food Handling Establishment for the processing of grains, pulses and oilseeds on March 17. This means the RCFFN can debran, mill and air-classify food ingredients for human consumption within the province using the Centre’s existing infrastructure. RCFFN anticipates approval will facilitate further collaborations among University researchers, provincial stakeholders and businesses.



Diploma instructors Colin Penner and Garrett Sawatzky, and students Acey Brinkman, Jill Martens and Rachel Neumann were interviewed in the story “University of Manitoba growing next generation of ag experts” for the Manitoba Co-operator (April 7) –

Claudia Narvaez, Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, wrote the op-ed “Food and COVID-19: What do we know?” on UM Today (March 30) –

Alum Joey Fiola (DipAgric/03) and his family were featured in the article “Resurrecting the family farm” in the Manitoba Co-operator (April 1) –

Martin Scanlon, Food and Human Nutritional Sciences (and Dean), and his research team were featured in the article “Free Asparagine Research May be Priceless for Producers” in the Alberta Wheat Commission publication Spotlight on AWC-funded Research (March 2020) – see page 6 at

Reg Dyck, School of Agriculture, along with several Faculty alumni were quoted in the article “‘Old farmers’ share their wisdom” which summarized a panel discussion held at the Manitoba Young Farmers conference, in the Manitoba Co-operator (March 24) –

Derek Brewin, Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics, was quoted in the article “The quest for a perfect farm safety net program” in the Manitoba Co-operator (March 19) –

Alum Michele Gaudry (DipAgric/14) was highlighted in the article “Bring on the bison” in the Manitoba Co-operator (March 17) –

Joyce Slater, Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, wrote the op-ed “School meals key to controlling diabetes rate” for the Winnipeg Free Press (March 17) –

Mario Tenuta, Soil Science, was quoted in the article “4R on 90 per cent of canola acres?” in Grainews (March 16) –

David Lobb, Soil Science, was quoted in the article “Timmerman trains the tigers of Treherne” in Country Guide (posted online March 10) –

Mario Tenuta, Soil Science, and alum Ian Grossart (DipAgric/84) were quoted in the article “Seeding change” in the Winnipeg Free Press (March 6) –

The work led by Filiz Koksel and Martin Scanlon, Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, on bubbles in bread was featured by Dr. Jean-Eric Ghia on ICI Manitoba in the feature “Y a-t-il trop de sel dans notre pain?”  (March 3) –



Heredia-Sandoval, N.G., Granados-Nevárez, M., Calderón de la Barca, A.M., Vásquez-Lara, F., Malunga, L.N., Beta, T., Islas-Rubio, A. (2020) Phenolic acids, antioxidant capacity, and estimated glycemic index of cookies added with brewer’s spent grain.  Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 75: 41–47.

Mejicanos, G.A., G. Ortis, and C.M. Nyachoti. 2020. Effect of dietary supplementation of xylanase in a wheat-based diet containing canola meal on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, organ weight, and short-chain fatty acid concentration in digesta when fed to weaned pigs. J. Anim. Sci. DOI: 10.1093/jas/skaa064.

Fernandez, M, Azevedo Perry, E, Schofield, E, Slater, J. 2020. Food literacy: Four initiatives in Canada. Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 10(1): 43-60.



Support Staff Recognition!  Show your appreciation of a support staff member or team by nominating them for the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Support Staff Awards. Deadline is May 15 – details and nomination form is at

There is also a call for nominations for FAFS Excellence in Teaching Award which was established to recognize exceptional contributions to the teaching mandate of the Faculty. Deadline is May 15 – details and nomination form is at


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