Through innovation and collaboration, our researchers, faculty members, external partners and students are improving quality of life and strengthening our community, our province and our world. Explore our current research projects below.
Centre for Applied Research Internal Fund (CARIF)
- Funding for project: CARIF
- Project duration: 2018-2019
- Lead researchers: Sophie Kerneis-Golsteyn (Instructor, Biological Sciences) and Leanne DuMontier (lab technician – Agriculture)
- News story: Research Briefs
The Microbial Research Group of Lethbridge College has launched the Alberta Antibiotic project, which has the goals to identify new antibiotics from Alberta plants and to engage our students in scientific and applied research. Finding new antibiotics is a priority as declared by the World Health Organization and will serve the agricultural, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Our group has identified several plants with antibacterial activities and are characterizing antibiotic molecules from a plant extract. Our native plant extract library constitutes a valuable resource for local and global industries who are interested in discovering safe alternatives for use as antibiotics.
- Funding for project: NSERC Engage
- Project duration: July 2018- January 2019
- Lead researcher: Rob Sonnenberg (Instructor, Culinary Careers)
- Industry Partner: Luco Farms
Culinary Careers at Lethbridge College has been working with food producers for more than 25 years, providing insight and support for our partners. In addition to menu development, quality testing and yield testing, the applied research area of Culinary Careers has recently been involved with organoleptic research on fish and produce (Integrated Fish and Plant Systems IFPS) and the value-added food product development of haskap berries (Lonicera caerulea).
Luco Farms has developed a line of artisan mustard formulations and have slowly been expanding their business in Southern Alberta. Before expanding their operations further, Luco Farms wants to reduce the discoloration that commonly occurs in their prepared artisan mustard product. Therefore, Lethbridge College is partnering with Luco Farms to develop methods which can help to reduce the discoloration in their prepared mustard without the use of artificial additives. Nitrogen injection/gassing may be a technology that can be used for this purpose.
- Funding for project: NSERC ARD
- Project duration: 2018-2019
- Lead researcher: Dr. Willemijn Appels (Mueller Applied Research Chair in Irrigation Science)
- Industry partner: Southern Irrigation
- News story: Putting the moisture where it counts: Subsurface drip irrigation delivers water directly to root systems
- News story: Southern Alberta soil comes inside at Lethbridge College to test irrigation properties
- News story: Bringing the Farm Indoors
Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) is an extremely water-efficient irrigation technology that delivers water at very low rates right into the root zone where plants can take it up. SDI systems can be used on irregularly shaped fields, can be fully automated, and can deliver nutrients as well as water, which creates an opportunity to increase crop yields without increasing water use. These aspects of SDI systems are fueling an increasing interest in SDI technology in southern Alberta. Lethbridge College and Southern Irrigation are partnering in a project that explores management of subsurface drip irrigation systems in terms of water and nutrient use efficiency.
The project combines laboratory, field, and computer experiments. In the extensive laboratory experiment, we will construct three wooden bins with common southern Alberta soils and seed alfalfa as a test crop. In each bin, two SDI systems with different emitter spacing will be installed at two depths for a total of four systems per bin. We will evaluate the ability of each system to deliver water to the crop under various irrigation management schedules with > 40 soil moisture sensors. In a second phase of the project, we will also evaluate the ability of the SDI systems to deliver P fertilizer to the crops. The insights gained in the laboratory experiments will be applied in the irrigation management of SDI systems in real fields during the growing season of 2018. Complementary computer simulations will help us explore what-if scenarios of irrigation water management in soils and weather conditions other than those experienced in the lab and field. The large setup in the laboratory creates a unique opportunity to test an irrigation technology destined for field crops in an indoor setting. Because of this, we can run experiments outside of the growing season and experiment with a large range of water management schedules without compromising a producer's yield and profit. The integration of the laboratory, computer model, and field results will allow us to generalize our findings into better SDI installation and management strategies for producers in western Canada.
- Funding for project: NSERC Engage and Alberta Innovates Campus Alberta Small Business Engagement (CASBE)
- Project duration: 2017- 2018
- Lead researcher: Dr. Nick Savidov, Senior Research Scientist
- Industry partner: 1722497 Alberta Ltd.
- News story: Bragging Writes
- News story: College Exploring Biochar Technology
- News story: Lethbridge College Research Project Investigates New Micro-Nanofiltration System For Zero-Waste Food Production
- News story: College investigates zero-waste food production
- News story: An Eye On Feeding An Increasingly Hungry World
Lethbridge College has partnered with 1722497 Alberta Ltd. to develop a zero-waste food production platform based on microfiltration and nutrient recycling designed to provide a highest yield output in the greenhouse space. The partnership would enable the removal of suspended smaller micro- and nanoparticles that can create problems in the drainage system of the vertical farms developed by the company. This project will utilize the uniquely designed microfiltration process using biochar's micro- and nanopore network that can efficiently trap these particles. Besides solving this problem, it will also minimize the need for aquaponics growers to add plant nutritional supplements to their systems, thus mitigating the ongoing industry problem of nutrient mismanagement in Canadian aquaponics production. In addition, the platform will create a niche value added product – highly concentrated nutrient solution active biochar, which has the potential to significantly reduce the operational costs of the aquaponics industry.
- Funding for project: NSERC 5-Year CCI-IE
- Project duration: 2015-2020
- Lead researcher: Dr. Nick Savidov, Senior Research Scientist
- Industry partners: Fresh Flavor Farms, Current Prairie Fisherman Corp., Nutraponics, Deep Water Farms, API Labs, Farming Smarter, Hamman AG Research, RINSA, Tri-Gen Fish Improvement Ltd., Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
- News story: Lethbridge College Expanding Applied Research Capabilities
- News story: Waste Not, Want Not
- News story: The Life Aquaponic
- News story: Pond to Table: College Research Project Puts Tastes To The Test
- News story: Lethbridge College Receives $2.1 Million In Applied Research Funding
With over 12 years of experience and expertise, Lethbridge College is a leader in Integrated Fish and Plant Systems (IFPS) research. Building on the success of its two-year CCI-IE, dedicated towards optimizing and expanding commercial aquaponics systems, the college has worked closely with aquaponics, aquaculture and greenhouse producers to identify critical issues facing the commercial food production sector in southern Alberta. To address these, Lethbridge College has taken a multi-disciplinary approach that also aligns with its strategic focus on agriculture. Accordingly, the objectives of the proposed activities centre on three main areas: food safety, consumer acceptance and economic return on investment (ROI). Each of these areas will drive projects that are specific to the needs of both industry and community that in turn will lead to commercialization opportunities.
The outcomes of the project will include knowledge transfer, skills development, and products and services. By year five, Lethbridge College fully expects to be able to adapt and transfer findings throughout the partnerships.
Agriculture and value-added agriculture are key aspects of the regional economy. If successful, funds from this proposal would bring tremendous impact to the community and would make southern Alberta a centrepiece of IFPS food production, demonstrating that rural communities can maintain a competitive advantage through economic diversification.
- Funding for the project: SSHRC Insight Grant
- Project duration: 2017-2021
- Principal Investigator: Dr. Jennifer Dyer, Memorial University.
- Co-investigators: Dr. Jennifer Davis (Lethbridge College Instructor, General Studies); Dr. Julie James, Ryerson University; Dr. Ruth Koleszar-Green, York University; Dr. Kimberley Manning, Concordia University; Dr. Sarah Pickett and Dr. Julie Temple-Newhook, Memorial University; Dr. Annie Pullen-Sansfacon, University of Montreal
Recent research suggests that strong parental support of transgender youth dramatically reduces their otherwise extremely high risk of self-harm and suicide. The challenges that parents and caregivers face in supporting and advocating for a transgender child, however, are immense. This project is a national study of parent advocates of transgender children and youth. It has two objectives: 1) to explain both advocacy success and the ongoing challenges that parents face, and 2) to create new networks, organizational links, and templates for practice within rural and urban Canadian communities in which parents are advocating for their children.
Transgender children began to emerge in the Canadian public eye in 2013 when several originally independent initiatives simultaneously got underway in several parts of the country. In the space of a few short months, parents began speaking to the media, creating support networks, and lobbying to have laws changed. Resource mobilization theory, which focuses on external resources, and political process theory, which focuses on frames, offer partial explanations for this sudden burst in activity, but a shift in emotional response has also played a vital role. Many parents have moved from a position of anxiety, that gender non-conformity was a problem produced by parenting to a position of parental pride.
This project combines group auto-ethnography and participatory action research in four different regions across Canada. It involves qualitative interviews with parent advocates and a critical media analysis of representations of transgender youth and their families to better understand the phenomenon of parental advocacy. It approaches advocacy as a type of gendered work that involves a large commitment of time, energy, resources, and emotional labour and considers the many affective and ethically fraught challenges that parents of transgender children face, including public backlash. It also examines how gender and heteronormativity, whiteness, class, and urban privilege shape collective parental strategies. Thus it contributes to forging a new conversation about care work in social movements, and directly contributes to grassroots knowledge mobilization.