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The McGill Woodswomen team, captained by Stephanie Belanger-Naud, completely dominated the field at the 55th annual Woodsmen competition held January 24th on the Macdonald Campus of McGill University. The team comprised of Meagan Dustin, Jessica Logan, Kimberly Duheme, Julie MacFarlane, Evelyn Levac, and of course Stephanie Belanger-Naud, captured an amazing first place finish in ten of the fourteen events.

The ladies placed first in Cross-cut Sawing (Team), Log Decking (Team), Pulp Throw(Team),  Swede Sawing (Team), Quarter Splitting (Kimberly Duheme, Evbelyn Levac), Standing Block Chop (Julie MacFarlane, Meagan Dustin),  Underhand Chop (Stephanie Belanger Naud, Jessica Logan), Single Buck Saw (Stephanie Belanger-Naud), Super Swede Saw (Julie MacFarlane), Snow shoe (Evelyn Levac). This team has worked very hard for the University, and are already focusing on their next competition which will be held at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture in Truro, Nova Scotia in two weeks’ time.

The men’s team came very close, only seventy points off first place. A strong day by Captain Rony Odermatt , Bob Tolhurst, Jessee Rogatini-Gamble, Dominic Mercier-Provencher, Sebastien Latraverse, Matthew Burns, Spare Matthew  Sweenan.

The two rookie teams placed very respectively, and show great promise for the future.

“I would like to thank the teams for their hard work, their dedication to McGill, and all those wonderful six a.m. practices in interesting weather,” says Coach John Watson.  Watson who has coached McGill Woodsmen teams for over forty years, and captured more than 100 championships, will retire from the University after the Nova Scotia competition.

“I am fortunate to have had the privilege and the honor of teaching and working with over 650 students in the field of lumberjacking on this campus. I am proud of each and every student I have put on the competition field. All of this is of course a team effort and I would like to thank former Athletic Director Bill Ellyett and his staff for their constant support which enabled me to grow with the program. I would also like to thank the University, for affording me the opportunity of bringing out the extraordinary talents of some of the very best students in Canada.”


Un extrait de pomme de terre pour contrôler l’obésité

Un extrait de pomme de terre irlandaise, riche en polyphénols, réduit de façon surprenante la prise de poids.

L'ingrédient miracle contre l'obésité est peut-être déjà dans votre garde-manger...  Un simple extrait de pommes de terre pourrait limiter la prise de poids qu'entraîne un régime riche en gras et glucides raffinés. C’est ce qu’avance une étude réalisée par des chercheurs de l’Université McGill, qui ont été si surpris des effets de cet extrait qu’ils ont reconduit l’expérience pour en avoir le cœur net. Lire article...

Controlling obesity with potato extract

Extract of Irish potatoes, rich in polyphenols, reduces weight gain to a surprising extent.

Take a look in your pantry: the miracle ingredient for fighting obesity may already be there. A simple potato extract may limit weight gain from a diet that is high in fat and refined carbohydrates, according to scientists [Stan Kubow, Danielle Donnely & Luis Agellon] at McGill University.

The results of their recent study were so surprising that the investigators repeated the experiment just to be sure. Read press release...

MAY 2014

Four Macdonald Alumni were recently honoured by the McGill Alumni Association at its May 8th Honours and Awards Banquet

Gretta Chambers Student Leadership Award

Bernice Ting, BSc(FSc)’14

Bernice is an exceptional student volunteer on the Macdonald Campus and has been active in a variety of student groups and campus projects since she began her studies.  She was an organizer of the hugely successful Food Science 25th Anniversary Symposium.  She has been a committee member for the Food Science Association, a waste auditor with McGill Gorilla composting, and the head coordinator of the Global Food Box, which offers fresh fruit and vegetables to McGill students.  She is the Accounts Manager and HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) Coordinator of the Out-of-the-Garden Project at Macdonald, which recently won a Catalyst Award from the McGill Office of Sustainability.

The faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has recognized Bernice’s commitment to he studies by awarding her two scholarships and naming her a recipient of a Macdonald Medal in 2011 and 2012.  The Macdonald division of the MAA recently presented her with the Gold Key Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to extra-curricular activities on the Mac Campus.

“Becoming a student leader has been about getting involved in projects that I’m passionate about,” says Bernice.

Distinguished Service Award

Marc Bieler, DipAgr’58, BA’64, and Marie Bieler, BSc(Agr)’80

Marc and Marie Bieler are exemplary members of the McGill community.  Marc Bieler, president of Atoka Cranberries and Canada’s “Cranberry King”, has supported McGill since 1964.  In 2007 he joined the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Advisory Board, where he has been a vigorous supporter of Faculty initiatives such as the McGill Conferences on Global Food Security, the McGill Institute for Global Food Security, and the McGill Food Safety and Quality Program.

In 2009, the Bielers donated $1 million to the Faculty to create the Bieler Family Internship Program, which supports internships for Macdonald students.  This gift has not only increased opportunities for students but has also allowed the faculty to strengthen ties with major industry partners locally, nationally and internationally.  Their objectives, says Marie, are to “build and share fundamental knowledge, to encourage youth to be better equipped for their work, and to connect knowledge and research through internships with industry.”

Says Marc, “My McGill education solidified my passion for agriculture, for food, and for entrepreneurship.”  The Bielers share this passion by speaking to students frequently on issues related to agricultural research and enterprise, and they have also made their cranberry farms and research labs available to McGill staff and students for teaching and research.

David Johnston Award for Leadership in Philanthropy

Chandra Madramootoo, BSc (AgrEng)’77, MSc’81, PhD’85

Chandra Madramootoo is Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Associate vice-Principal of McGill.  His long tenure – serving since 2005 – is a testament to the respect he carries among faculty, staff, students and alumni.

As a young academic, he served as a volunteer on the local McGill Alumni Association board, bringing that all-important Macdonald Campus perspective to the table.  Under his leadership, the Faculty has thrived, and the bond with Mac donors, alumni and volunteers has grown even stronger. He has led alumni, faculty and staff in supporting important initiatives such as the $7.5-million Macdonald Library and Learning Centre, and the $4.25-million state-of-the-art Mary Catherine Freeman Food Laboratories and Frederick N. Southam Food Preparation Laboratory.

Chandra credits his success in bringing graduates and friends together to support the University to his love of Mac and McGill.  “I see what great work is being done by the institution – the great research and teaching, the superb students.  I find it so satisfying to share my passion for Mac with donors and alumni, and to see how this translates into their support for the institution.”

His vision during two terms as Dean has made an impact on the Macdonald Campus that will leave the Faculty well positioned to meet the challenges ahead.

GWP Sponsors McGill University’s Online Course
The Global Water Partnership (GWP) has sponsorship available for eligible participants to complete the online course in Integrated and Adaptive Water Resources Planning, Management and Governance offered by McGill University’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Read more...

APRIL 2014

Coconut comes out of its shell
Once shunned for its saturated fat, coconut’s reputation for boosting health is growing
Coconut oil, a saturated fat vilified not so long ago as a culprit in clogged arteries and heart disease, appears to have undergone a rehabilitation.Proponents say that coconut oil is beneficial for health — that it does everything from improve the immune system and help prevent osteoporosis to decrease inflammation, which might be a major factor in the development of disease... Read more in The Gazette

McGill et l’ETS seront des acteurs majeurs du développement de Griffintown: La recherche et la culture ont déjà trouvé place dans ce secteur en cours de revitalisation
Lancé officiellement en mai 2013, le Quartier de l’innovation en est encore à ses balbutiements. L’École de technologie supérieure (ETS), préoccupée par la revitalisation urbaine au sud du boulevard René-Lévesque et à l’ouest de l’autoroute Bonaventure, a approché l’Université McGill pour élaborer ce projet de développement.

Si l’ETS était déjà bien implantée dans le milieu, un chercheur de McGill voit désormais les avantages d’y mettre le pied. Donald Smith, professeur à la Faculté des sciences de l’agriculture et de l’environnement à l’Université McGill, a un bureau au campus Macdonald, situé à Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Mais pour le réseau BioFuelNet Canada, dont il est à la tête, il a implanté son siège dans le Carrefour d’innovation INGO, situé sur le site de l’ancienne brasserie Dow. Read more in Le Devoir

Une équipe de McGill s'intéresse à la santé des bébés ghanéens
Une équipe de chercheurs de l'Université McGill a reçu une subvention de 3,5 millions $ du gouvernement fédéral pour réaliser un projet visant à améliorer la santé et la sécurité alimentaire de nourrissons et d'enfants au Ghana. L'équipe dirigée par la professeure Grace Marquis, de l'École de diététique et de nutrition humaine, va aider les populations rurales à mettre sur pied des programmes d'intervention en matière de santé et de production agricole. Read more in TVA Nouvelles

Also, see articles in Star Africa and Ghana News

Stronger by the bushell: McGill breakthrough in epigenetics will help prevent costly crop damage for wheat farmers

When wheat germinates before it’s harvested, it ruins the crop, a problem that costs the global wheat industry as much as $1 billion a year. Since wheat is Canada’s largest crop — we exported $6.7 billion worth of the grain in 2013 — it’s a problem familiar to Canadian farmers. Luckily, a team at McGill University led by Jaswinder Singh may have found a solution. Reda more at Innovation.ca

Creating buzz with bee hive atop T.M.R. town-hall: Students learn about nature and politics in unique project to place a bee colony atop town hall

For the bees, too, it’s been a long, hard winter. As they prepare to leave the hive to take their first flight of spring, the question is whether there will be enough honey left over from last year to survive until the flowers bloom — and the queen lays her eggs. But this Earth Day, the honey bees have found new friends in high places, as town councillors in Mount Royal team with “mini” town councillors to set up a hive on the roof of town hall. Read more in The Gazette

Sperm RNA carries marks of trauma
Stress alters the expression of small RNAs in male mice and leads to depressive behaviours in later generations (Sarah Kimmins).
Read article in Nature

Cleanup of soil at illegal PCB storage site set to begin
The cleanup of a site in Pointe-Claire that stored toxic liquids for years will enter a new phase this week. Technorem, a company specializing in soil characterization and rehabilitation, begins work at the Reliance Power Equipment site on Hymus Blvd. where toxic materials, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), were illegally stored.

Soil characterization is a process that involves removing samples of earth from multiple points on the affected swath of land and then having the soil analyzed for contaminants.
“(The lab) will measure the concentration of PCBs and other organic materials, such as oils, all of which are bad for the soil,” Jim Fyles said. Read more...

Des érablières moins bucoliques
La production de sirop d'érable perdra son aspect bucolique si les recherches de l'Université du Vermont s'avèrent. Les acériculteurs récolteraient la sève d'arbres ayant deux ou trois centimètres de diamètre, qui seraient coupés à une hauteur de 1,5 m chaque année. (Pascal Thériault)
Read article in La Presse

MARCH 2014

Is there life on Mars? McGill researcher on team to find out

When asked how he was handling this winter’s abnormally long stretches of cold weather, Lyle Whyte chuckles “Actually, I was going to break out my high arctic winter jacket,” says the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology.

But, unlike many winter-weary Montrealers, Whyte isn’t one to complain about frigid climes, having conducted the bulk of his research up at McGill’s High Arctic Station for the past 14 years. In fact, his wealth of experience working in extreme cold temperatures recently helped him land a spot on an elite team of scientists handpicked by the European Space Agency (ESA) to work on the ambitious ExoMars 2018 project, specifically as a member of the Landing Site Selection Working Group (LSSWG). Read more in the McGill Reporter


Congratulations to the Farm to School team who were the 2014 recipients of a Catalyst Award for Applied Student Research and the Out of the Garden project who won the Catalyst Award for ‘lessons learned’, given by the McGill Office of Sustainability.

The mission of Farm to School is to engage elementary students in the understanding of where food comes from, and the science behind the food system. The project brings together undergraduate students to build educational modules for various ages, which they will put online to be freely available for all teachers. Since May 2013, over 200 elementary school children have come to Macdonald campus to gain inspiration about science and sustainability in agriculture, environment and nutrition. Farm to School was the hundredth Sustainability Projects Fund initiative to be funded, and shows no signs of slowing down.

The Out-of-the-Garden project (OGP) – Alternative Café is a club, a group, and a community that is dedicated to providing Macdonald students and staff with healthy, diverse meals using locally produced vegetables. The Café serves meals that  are produced, processed, and served at Mac Campus, and has transformed the Ceilidh into a communal gathering and skill-sharing space. Their food is not only delicious, but offers gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan meals, and is based on feedback through surveys and recipe testing.

McGill’s cultural side in the spotlight on Télé-Québec’s new web platform, La Fabrique culturelle

Doing science education through dance doesn’t sound like the easiest fit in the world. But for doctoral student Geneviève Metson, it was a natural. “I was the only person in my high school year doing physics, chemistry and dance,” says Metson, who is currently working on her PhD in Natural Resource Sciences with supervisor Elena Bennett. “I studied dance throughout high school, and I was very serious about it. But in the end I decided to pursue science.” Read article in The McGill Reporter

Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada: An Assessment of the State of Knowledge

A new report released on March 27 by the Council of Canadian Academies found that the Inuit are the most food insecure group in the developed world. The  Expert Panel, chaired by Professor Emerita of Human Nutrition Harriet Kuhnlein, included Murray Humphries (NRS) and Mac alumna Treena Wasonti:io Delormier.

Download the full report from the Council of Canadian Academies

Press coverage included: Huffington Post | Al Jazeera America | CBC News  |  Nunatsiaq News | Carolyn Bennett, MP | Food Secure Canada | BC Food Security Gateway | Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak | Inuit Tapriit Kanatami - Joint Statement

Engineering students at CEC competition

The 2014 Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC-CCI) was hosted by the University of Western Ontario in London, ON, from the 13th to the 16th of March. This year’s theme was Engineering Intersections to put an emphasis on the interdisciplinary aspect of engineering in the 21st century. Though the competition was fiercely disputed by top students from across Canada, our Bioresource Engineering students were able to distinguish themselves once again.

The competition assembled the top 2 teams in each category for each Canadian region: West, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic, for a total of 56 teams and over 150 future engineers. As the next level after the Quebec Engineering Competition, the Quebec delegation, including 2 teams from Macdonald Campus, proudly displayed the quality and know-how of our beautiful province though their stellar performances. Indeed, Quebec won the most prizes, though by a slim margin, while Atlantic won the most 1st places, proving that the future of Canadian engineering is quite promising across the country.

After 2 days of heated competition, the winners were announced at the banquet dinner where Macdonald Campus was able to snatch 3rd place in Innovative Design with the Canadian Integrated Northern Greenhouse for Year-Round Food Security.

We would therefore like to give a big hand of applause to the two Macdonald Campus teams sent to represent our Department, Faculty and Quebec:

  • Sara Tawil and Marcela Rojas for their excellent work in the Reengineering category;
  • and Leandra Langlois and Dzuy-Tam Tran for placing 3rd in the Innovative Design category.

Finally, it should be noted that the CEC does not only allow students to compete against one another, but also encourages camaraderie and networking between future engineers and the industry.

Next year, the 2015 CEC will be held from March 5 to 8 in beautiful St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, hosted by Memorial University and should also prove to be a memorable experience.



The 2014 Quebec Engineering Competition (QEC-CIQ), themed Energies of Tomorrow, was held beginning of February in Saint-Alexis-des-Monts. This is the largest student engineering competition in the province, bringing together 13 teams from different universities in the province. The competition puts students in the position to go beyond the classroom and test themselves in real engineering situations, exhibiting their ingenuity, leadership, and communication skills. It also gives participants an opportunity to connect with the entire engineering community, with social events that introduce competitors to each other and members of the industry.

The students from Bioresource Engineering sent a full delegation to represent Bioresource Engineering in all 7 categories of competition: Junior Conception, Senior Conception, Oral Debating, Consulting Engineering, Innovative Design, Scientific Communication, and Reengineering. Special awards were given to teams which distinguished themselves in 6 different categories: Social Issues Awareness, Environmental Issues Awareness, Energy Efficiency Awareness,  Innovative Energy Uses, Technical Excellence, and Engineering Excellence for Women.

After 3 days of intense competition, the winners were announced at the closing banquet dinner. Macdonald campus proudly won 3 awards in total and came very close in several other categories.

  • 1st place in Reengineering: Sara Tawil and Marcela Rojas Dìaz for their work on Reengineering a Skeleton Sled for Paralympians and Reengineering Wind Turbines: Save the Birds
  • 2nd place in Innovative Design and special Social Issues Awareness prize: Dzuy Tam Tran and Leandra Langlois for their Canadian Integrated Northern Greenhouse for Year-Round Food Security

We are all very proud of this year's fun and energetic delegation! Once again, BRAVO! The Macdonald delegation displayed their impressive work, respectfully representing our campus and our program amongst schools with competitors from varying engineering categories. We proved again this year that Bioresource Engineering can compete with the bigger Universities, and that our program, with its characteristic teamwork and communication skills, deserves recognition for its continued efforts to specialize our students in the key concerns of the future: our food, water, and energy sources as well as preserving and remediating the environment.

Next year’s theme for QEC is Engineering the Elements and will be held in École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal where the Macdonald team hopes to perform even better than this year. You can once again expect a top notch event from this industry-oriented engineering school.

A very special thanks to Dzuy-Tam Tran, VP-External of the BEA for organizing the 2014 Macdonald QEC delegation. He managed to fulfill all the duties of a head delegate, while earning a place at the CEC and winning the social awareness prize for the second time in two years.  

PS. Come by the Macdonald-Stewart lobby on Tuesdays between 11am and 2pm to buy perogies to help finance the BEA and make this event possible.