Participant Profiles (2018-2019)

Douglas Goff
Food Science, University of Guelph
Host: Universität Hohenheim

Dietary Fibre Enrichment in Foods for Targeted Health Benefits: Relating Physical and Physiological Properties of Hydrocolloids

My research program focuses on non-starch food polysaccharides (NSPs) that act as dietary fibre (DF) during human digestion. Consumption of DF has many well-known health benefits, including reduction in blood glucose when consumed with starch or sugars. Global trends in diabetes indicate increasing prevalence at alarming rates. People with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance could consume enhanced DF content as a means to help control blood glucose and insulin, however we consume far less DF than recommended by health agencies. Our research focuses on two aspects: understanding how molecular structure of NSPs influences glucose uptake in the small intestine; and incorporation of enhanced DF in foods to limit its potential negative effect on food texture. Measurement of rheology (viscosity, gelation) of food matrices with NSPs is an important technique to understand both aspects. At Hohenheim, they have developed several advanced techniques for the study of food rheology, so the main objective is to learn and apply their techniques to further understanding the role of NSPs on food texture and food behavior in the gut. Our intent is that this will lead to further student collaboration between our two laboratories, enhanced knowledge for the development of high DF-containing foods and joint publications.

 

Bryan D. Koivisto
Chemistry and Biology, Ryerson University
Host: Universität Ulm

The Development of Bioinspired Dyes for Light Harvesting Applicaions

Canada has been gifted with a tremendous variety of natural resources, but the need for new alternative energy sources is imperative and a survey of our renewable options reveals that the sun is the only viable non-carbonaceous energy source. Currently, silicon-based photovoltaics (PVs) are the most common solar energy conversion technologies, but their efficiency in the absence of direct solar irradiation is poor (i.e. shade, cloud, morning, evening, winter, etc.). In order to reduce our dependence on traditional energy sources, a substantial change in technology is required. Next-generation photovoltaic technologies including; the low-cost dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) may represent part of the solution. In the DSSC the bio-inspired dye molecule is the key component and using a myriad of synthetic strategies we are able to tune and optimize the absorption and electrochemical properties of these dyes to make them more attractive targets for light-based applications. This research seeks to develop a variety of novel bio-inspired organic dye architectures to improve: performance and stability of the dye; our fundamental understanding of energy-transfer and absorption; and ultimately realize efficient devices and modern technologies.

 

Lewis Lukens
Plant Agriculture OAC, University of Guelph
Host: Universität Hohenheim

Developing Novel Methods to Understand Wheat Inheritance and Diversity

Improving crop plants increases farmers’ incomes and provides food security. In this project, in collaboration with German partners, I will use new data analysis approaches, new genomic information, and large-scale field data to improve wheat. The work will calculate breeding values of Ontario wheat cultivars to identify those that will produce the best future cultivars. The work will identify the chromosomal bases for cultivar differences to accelerate plant breeding. Finally, the work will evaluate the diversity of Ontario wheat to ensure the genetic foundation of the crop. The work will combine historical agricultural data with novel statistical, bioinformatics, and genomics technologies. The project will bring important statistical genetics expertise to the University of Guelph and lay the groundwork for student exchange.

 

Hugh MacIsaac
Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor
Host: Universität Konstanz

Determinants of Success in Global Biological Invasions

Introductions of Alien Invasive Species are typically the second or third most important factor contributing to disruption of ecological communities and species endangerment, though in some cases (e.g. Great Lakes, South Pacific Islands) they are the principal factor. Predicting where and how species invade new habitats is thus critically important. In this proposal, I seek funds from the Ontario/Baden-Württemberg Exchange Program to capitalize on a global data set developed and published earlier this year in Nature Ecology and Evolution by Dr. van Kleunen (and colleagues) that addressed global invasion patterns. Their dataset included socio-economic information (e.g. GDP) as well as environmental information and system (island or continent) data. This is a very unique opportunity to address additional questions. Specifically, we will limit the data only to those areas with high numbers of invasive species and then test the importance of introduction effort (meaning lots of opportunities for species to be introduced by humans), GDP, area, sampling effort, and island/continent status to understand differences in number of established invaders. Likewise, we will take the subset of sites with low invasive species numbers but with high introduction effort to determine what environmental or other variables account for the lack of successful invasions.