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Lorne Adam

Forty-One Years with the U of M

Coffee with a Co-worker

July 14, 2017 — 

Lorne Adam is the potato guy. Since 1977, he has been assisting plant scientists in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences with studies on the hallowed spud.

“I actually had no training in plants at all,” Adam notes. “I learned it all right here.” Out of high school, he got a diploma in chemistry technology and then worked at INCO in northern Manitoba. He came back south when a job opened up in a plant science lab at the U of M in the fall of 1975. He has been here ever since.

Early on, Adam worked in the greenhouses helping conduct research on the fertility of potatoes, and also spent many, many summers working potato fields out at The Point, where the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences has its experimental fields.

“I was basically a farmer on campus,” he explains. “But over the years my job has changed somewhat. I’ve continued working the fields as researchers would come and go through the department. But I do more work with graduate students now, training them in plant pathology and watching them move on to careers elsewhere.” Adam speaks highly of the grad students who have shared his windowless lab in the basement of the plant science building.

“There have been hundreds of them, from all over the world,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to be exposed to many different cultures, and I’ve formed friendships with people who have taught me as much as I have taught them.”

Most memorable supervisor: Dr. Lucien LaCroix:
“In 1977 I was in between supervisors and he came to me and asked, ‘How would you like to work on potatoes?’ I said, ‘I don’t know anything about potatoes!’ And he replied, ‘Neither do I! Let’s learn together!’”

“Oh, gee, I guess I should start looking for a hobby, at this stage in my life.”

Best way to serve a potato:
“I prefer a nice boiled red potato, with sour cream. But my favourite is simply mashed red potatoes with butter.”

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