Food from Thought held a kickoff meeting for its third and final Thematic Research Fund (Thematic III) on June 13, 2022. The purpose of the event was to enable the thematic III awardees to meet, connect and learn about the research projects they are all working on that will develop new insights and contribute solutions to significant agri-food problems.
Dr. Malcolm Campbell, vice president (research), launched the event with opening remarks that set the tone for the meeting.
“Today, we encourage you all to communicate openly and candidly and be receptive to discussing and developing new ideas that can lead to opportunities for interdisciplinary cross-pollinating work.”
Dr. Campbell also encouraged attendees to take a curious look at each others’ projects and solicit honest and comprehensive feedback as they work together to create innovative solutions that improve the sustainability and productivity of food systems at global, landscape, and micro-levels.
The meeting format provided the new awardees an opportunity to hear from Food from Thought’s scientific director, Dr. Evan Fraser, and project director, Melissa Watkins, about the upcoming priorities for the research program.
The event also introduced attendees to the new Director of Agri-Food Data Strategy, Michelle Edwards. She shared an update about the Agri-Food Data Canada initiative, a platform for all agri-food research data at the University of Guelph and a hub for other agri-food nodes, or “data centres,” across Canada.
Several new thematic III researchers presented an overview of their projects, sharing the goals and intended outcomes of their research. The presentations were followed by a lunch reception where the awardees took the time to dialogue with each other.
The kickoff meeting serves as the first of other opportunities that Food from Thought is planning for thematic III researchers to provide them with an open forum to discuss and debate their projects and advance scientific research by working together.
The thematic III fund provides a total of $8.66 million for projects for up to three years, led by 23 researchers from U of G and partner universities.
The interdisciplinary projects are intended to advance research that challenges conventional wisdom, leads to unexpected insights, and impacts policies or practices in the agri-food industry. Projects will also support Food from Thought’s data management strategy and the development of Agri-food Data Canada (ADC).