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Mark Lefsrud

Associate Professor; William Dawson Scholar

T: 514-398-7967  |  mark [dot] lefsrud [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) |  Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS1-096  |  Website


BS (Sask)
MS (Rutgers)
PhD (Tenn)

Short Bio

Dr. Lefsrud is an Associate Professor at McGill University and leads the Biomass Production Laboratory.  His upbringing on a farm and work in the oil fields of Alberta, Canada combined with his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology gives him a very strong background in the fields of agriculture, biology, and engineering.  His research program deals with the development of bioprocesses and improvements in plant growth environmental energy usage.

The laboratory is focused on three areas: 1) The development and improvement of new sources of biomass (food, fibre and/or fuel); 2) The improvement of energy efficiency of greenhouses and plant growth environments (light (LEDs) and heating systems); and 3) The development of a proteomic system for monitoring of microorganisms and plants. His overall research philosophy is a holistic one in which focus on individual facets of an issue leads to a solution to the problem as a whole.

Awards and Recognitions

William Dawson Scholar (McGill equivalent to a CRC Tier 2), 2015-2020
Global Engineering Teaching Award, 2014. Engineers Without Borders McGill University Student Branch
NABEC Young Engineer's Award, 2012

Active Affiliations

  • Associate Member, McGill School of the Environment. Jan 2011 – current

  • Associate Member, McGill Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design (TISED). Feb 2015 – current

  • BioFuelNet Canada

  • Professional Engineer with APEGGA (Association of Professional Engineers Geologists and Geophysicist of Alberta)

  • Canadian National Proteomic Network

  • Professional Agrologist with AIA (Alberta Institute of Agrologists)

  • ASHS/CSHS (American/Canadian Society of Horticultural Scientists)

  • ASABE/CSBE (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers)

  • SE 303 Environment of Plant Structures, ASABE

  • NCERA 101 Committee on Controlled Environment Technology and Use

Research Interests

The Biomass Production Laboratory focus is developing methods to improve monitoring and production of living organisms. This laboratory's primary goal is the improvement of plants for human consumption (food security), and energy (biofuels). Within this focus of food security we are investigating methods for Urban Agriculture including: greenhouse heating using wood pellets (with direct combustion and gasification), light emitting diodes for increased production, and using community proteomics to provide a novel method to monitor plant development.  We are also investigating the production of bio-oil through field pea and algae production.

Food security has become an increasing concern in Canada and around the world. Many individuals and families do not have access to fresh, nutritional food either because it is too costly, the food is not fresh anymore or it is not available at that time of year. The cost of most food is greatly increased due to the fact that food is transported by truck or plane over long distances to reach the consumer, with most fresh produce coming from Florida or California. These transported fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables can be damaged and lose some of their nutritional value during the transport making the purchase of these products even less appealing. The alternative choice to fresh food is highly processed foods, low in nutritional value. The constant consumption of these highly processed foods are impacting and causing severe consequences to the northern population’s health. Our solution is to move the production of these fresh fruits and vegetables closer to the consumer, specifically into the towns and cities and developing a technology known as Urban Agriculture or vertical farming.

What is Urban Agriculture? Urban Agriculture is the idea of food production in an urban agricultural setting and has been proposed by a number of companies using a range of technologies. The major focus of our researched are: energy reduction (light and heat), selection of species and cultivars for this specific growing environment and determining the nutritional improvement of plants grown within the system. A major focus of our laboratory is improving lighting methods using LEDs within the building and developing methods to use renewable energy sources for heating and carbon dioxide production.

Watch an interview on CBC's The National about farming of the future.

Read Dr. Lefsrud's interview about LEDs and urban agriculture on Hort Americas.


Current Research

  • Light emitting diode evaluation for plant production in greenhouses
  • Plant growth response to light emitting diodes in controlled environments
  • Urban Barns Controlled Environment Agriculture
  • Urban Barns Controlled Environment Agriculture - Continuation
  • Oil and Lipid Improvements in Field Pea, a Non-Traditional Oilseed Crop


BREE 314 Agri-Food Buildings 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

BREE 327 Bio-Environmental Engineering 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

BREE 520 Food, Fibre and Fuel Elements 3 CreditsTaught only in alternate years
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

BREE 530 Fermentation Engineering 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


View a list of current publications

Additional publications of interest

Madadian, E., M. Lefsrud, C. Perez Lee, Y. Roy, V. Orsat. Gasification of Pelletized Woody Biomass Using a Down-Draft Reactor and Impact of Material Bridging. Journal of Energy Engineering 04016001:1-7.

Both, A.J., L. Benjamin, J. Franklin, G. H. Holroyd, L. D. Incoll, M. G. Lefsrud and G. Pitkin. 2015. Guidelines for Measuring and Reporting Environmental Parameters for Experiments in Greenhouses. Plant Methods 1097620838156277

Patel, A., E. Huang, E. Low-Décarie, M. Lefsrud. 2015. Comparative shotgun proteomic analysis of wastewater cultured microalgae: Nitrogen sensing and carbon fixation for growth and nutrient removal in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. JPR pr-2014-01316h.

Kurian, J.K., G. R. Nair, Y. Gariepy, M. Lefsrud, V. Orsat, P. Seguin, V. Yaylayan, G.S.V. Raghavan. 2015. An experimental study on hydrothermal treatment of sweet sorghum bagasse for the extraction of hemicellulose. Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery 5(2): 161-171. DOI: 10.1007/s13399-014-0131-9

Kurian, J.K., G.R. Nair, Y. Gariepy, M. Lefsrud, V. Orsat, V. Yaylayan, G.S.V. Raghavan (2015). Experimental investigation of a sequential process for the fractionation of sweet sorghum bagasse. Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery. DOI: 10.1007/s13399-015-0161-y

Naznin, M.T., Yoshiaki Kitaya, Toshio Shibuya, H. Hirai, M.G. Lefsrud. 2015. Light intensity affects on medicinal compound ajoene accumulation in hydroponically grown garlic plants.  AAAS Journal 3(4):16-25.

McCartney, L., M. Lefsrud. 2015. Portable Frost-protection Misting System: Trial on Tomato and Sweet Orange Crops. Horttech 25(3):313-321.

Ahmed, S., S. Kaur, N. D. Lamb-Palmer, N. Dylan, M. Lefsrud, J.Singh. 2015. Genetic diversity and population structure of Pisum sativum accessions for marker-trait association. The Crop Journal 3:238-245

Naznin, M.T., Y. Kitaya, T. Shibuya, R. Endo, H. Hirai, M. G. Lefsrud. 2015. Ground Based Study on Culturing Garlic as a Source of Vegetable Food and Medicine in Space - Growth and Ajoene Accumulation in Garlic Plants Cultured with Different CO2 Regimes. Biological Sciences in Space.  Biological Sciences in Space (29) 1-7.

Lizotte, P.-L., P. Savoie, M. Lefsrud, G. Allard. 2014. Yield and moisture content of corn stover components in Québec (Canada). Canadian Biosystems Engineering / Le génie des biosystèmes au Canada. 56: 8.1-8.9.

Kurian, J., Y.Gariepy, M. Lefsrud, V. Orsat, P. Seguin, V. A. Yaylayan, R.Vijaya.  2014. Experimental study on calcium hydroxide assisted delignification of hydrothermally treated sweet sorghum bagasse. International Journal of Chemical Engineering 2014 (684296) doi:10.1155/2014/684296.

Madadian, E, M. Lefsrud, C. Perez, Y. Roy. 2014. Green energy production: The potential of using biomass gasification. Journal of Green Engineering, Vol. 4, 101–116.

Roy, Y., M. Lefsrud, F. Filion, J. Bouchard, Q. Nguyen, L. Dion, A. Glover. 2014. Biomass Combustion for Greenhouse Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Biomass and Bioenergy 1-14.

Deram, P., M. Lefsrud, V. Orsat. 2014. Supplemental Lighting Orientation and Red to Blue Ratio of Light Emitting Diodes for Greenhouse Tomato Production. HortScience 49(4)1-5.


Previous Work Experience

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Researcher in proteomics, mass spectrometry and bacterial communities in acid mine drainage systems and biofuel fermentation communities.
  • ORBITEC, Madison, Wisconsin. Design and development of space flight hardware for the International Space Station.
  • Computalog, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Field Engineer Well Logger.
  • Lefsrud Seed and Processor, Viking, Alberta, Canada.