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Appointment of Assistant Professor in Precision Agriculture to advance Food from Thought research and training in sustainable agriculture

Photo of prof. John Sulik

The University of Guelph has named Dr. John Sulik as Assistant Professor of Precision Agriculture. His role began on June 4, 2018. Eager to share his unique training and experience with the next generation of agricultural researchers, Sulik will be a key member of the Food from Thought research team.

Sulik will lead a comprehensive research program integrating concepts in agroecology with data-intensive precision agriculture tools to enhance sustainability of field crop production in Ontario. He will teach undergraduate courses in agroecology and precision agriculture, and mentor and advise graduate students.

Sulik will also help train engineering students to understand the impact of drone flight planning on image quality, build relationships with key stakeholders, and will help identify circumstances and opportunities where precision ag technologies will benefit agriculture, viticulture, and horticulture.

“John is a terrific addition to the research team at University of Guelph,” says Malcolm Campbell, Vice President (Research). “John’s extensive experience with data analytics in an agricultural context will help maintain Food from Thought’s position on the cutting edge of research and innovation, and accelerate its progress towards achieving the goal of sustainable food production.”

Sulik’s academic studies trained him in geography, and his professional work gave him complimentary industry experience. After grad school, he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship as a Research Physical Scientist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the USDA. ARS provided a deep understanding of how to apply geospatial techniques within the context of agronomy. Sulik then worked with precision agriculture and multispectral sensing systems companies.

Sulik’s faculty position is based within the Department of Plant Agriculture in the University’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC).

“John brings enormous energy and a vast skill set to this enterprise. We feel so fortunate to have him join our faculty,” says prof. Hugh Earl, chair of the department. “Ontario crop producers are currently being presented with a vast array of new remote sensing and GIS-based technologies. With John’s help our department will continue to dedicate an independent, science-based approach to evaluating these technologies, and developing new ones.”

Earl adds that Sulik’s expertise and research program will also help growers improve profitability and environmental sustainability of their production systems.

Sulik is the first of several research faculty to be hired by the University through the Food from Thought program, which is funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). The researchers will be directly involved in CFREF-supported research, and the development of an integrated research and innovation platform for accessing and applying big data in the agriculture and agri-food sector. They will have varying expertise across numerous departments, and contribute to Food from Thought’s goal of increasing our ability to leverage big data for the benefit of food production while maintaining the health of our ecosystems.