Mark Lefsrud, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Image by Tom DiSandolo.

Associate Professor; William Dawson Scholar

T: 514-398-7967  |  mark.lefsrud [at] (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 four 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); 3) The development quality practices for cannabis production; and 4) Development of monitoring techniques for plants and microorganisms using machine vision, nutrient monitoring, proteomics and metabolomics. 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; 2020-2025
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
  • Professional Engineer with APEGA (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta)
  • 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)
  • PAFS 30 Plant Systems Group, 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 proteomics and metabolomics to provide a novel method to monitor plant development.

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.

Current Research

  • Light emitting diode evaluation for plant production in greenhouses
  • Plant growth response in controlled environments
  • Urban and vertical agriculture design
  • Biocompatible concrete
  • Medicinal cannabis (QAQCC)
  • 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 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

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


View a list of current publications

Publications of interest

Seguin, R. M.G. Lefsrud, T. Delormier, J. Adamowski. 2021. Assessing constraints to agricultural development in circumpolar Canada through an innovation systems lens. Agricultural Systems 194:103268.

Parrine, D., T. Greco, B. Muhammad, B.-S. Wu, X. Zhao, M. Lefsrud. 2021. Color-specific response to extreme high-light stress in plants. Life 11:812.

Wu, B.S. S. MacPherson, M. G. Lefsrud. 2021. Filtering light-emitting diodes to investigate amber and red spectral effects on lettuce growth. Plants 10(6):1075.

Wu, B.-S., Y. Hitti, S. MacPherson, V. Orsat, M. G. Lefsrud. 2020. Comparison and perspective of conventional and LED lighting for photobiological and industry applications. Environmental and Experimental Botany 171:103953.

Yavari, N., M. Lefsrud. 2019. Proteomic analysis provides insights into Arabidopsis thaliana response under narrow-wavelength LED of 595 nm. Journal of Proteomics and Bioinformatics 12(8): 507.

Wu, B.-S., A.-S. Rufyikiri, V. Orsat, M. G. Lefsrud. 2019. Re-interpreting the photosynthetically action radiation (PAR) curve in plants. Plant Science 289 (2019): 110272.

Naznin, M.T., M. Lefsrud, M. O. K. Azad, C. H. Park. 2019. Effect of different combinations of red and blue LED light on growth characteristics and pigments content of in vitro tomato plantlets. Agriculture 9(196):1-9.

Buelvas, R., J. Holoszkiewicz, M. Lefsrud, P. Tikasz, E. Leksono, V. Adamchuk. 2019. Biomass estimation from canopy measurements for leafy vegetables. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 164 (2019) 104896.

Backer, R. G.M., P. Rosenbaum, V. McCarty, S. Eichhorn Bilodeau, D. Lyu, M. B. Ahmed, W. G. Robinson, M. Lefsrud, O. Wilkins, D.L. Smith. 2019.Closing the yield gap for cannabis: -omics tools for crop improvement and innovative production practices to maximize yields Frontiers in Plant Science 10:495:1-15.

Madadian, E., L. Amiri, M. Lefsrud. 2019. Thermodynamic analysis of wood pellet gasification in a downdraft reactor for advanced biofuel production. Waste and Biomass Valorization WAVE-D-18-00917.

Tikasz, P., S. MacPherson, V. Adamchuk, M. Lefsrud. 2019. Aerated chicken, cow, and turkey manure extracts differentially affect lettuce and kale yield in hydroponics. International Journal of Recycling of Organic Waste in Agriculture. 8:241–252.

Eichhorn Bilodeau, S., B. S. Wu, A.S. Rufyikiri, S. MacPherson, M. Lefsrud. 2019. An Update on Plant Photobiology and Implications for Cannabis Production. Frontiers in Plant Science 10:296:1-15.

McCartney, L., M. Lefsrud. 2018. Protected agriculture in extreme environments: a review of controlled environment agriculture in tropical, arid, polar and urban locations. Applied Engineering in Agriculture 34(1):1-21

Parrine Sant'Ana, D.V., B.S. Wu, B. Muhamma, K. Rivera, D. Pappin, X. Zhao, M. Lefsrud. 2018. Proteome modifications on tomato under extreme high light induced-stress. Proteome Science 16(20):1-15.

McCartney, L., M. Lefsrud. 2018. Field trials of the natural ventilation augmented cooling (NVAC) greenhouse. Biosystems Engineering. 174:159-172.

McCartney, L., V. Orsat, M. Lefsrud. 2018. An experimental study of the cooling performance and airflow patterns in a model Natural Ventilation Augmented Cooling (NVAC) greenhouse. Biosystems Engineering 174:173-189.

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.

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

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.


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.


The Biomass Production Laboratory is strongly committed to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Trainees will be selected on the basis of merit and applications from the following groups are encouraged: racialized persons/visible minorities, women, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities.

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