Ronholm receives Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Emerging Researcher

Published: 5 June 2023

Ronholm was among three highly accomplished early career researchers who received a significant McGill distinction: The Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Emerging Researchers.

Jennifer Ronholm: Pioneering strategies to eliminate antibiotic use in agriculture

“My research aims to reduce the number of people who suffer and die from antibiotic resistant infections by eliminating the need to use antibiotics on commercial farms,” says Jennifer Ronholm, a William Dawson Scholar and Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry and the Department of Animal Science.

Ronholm conducts innovative and highly significant research on replacing antibiotics used in agricultural animals and bases this approach on investigating the microbiology of livestock. This includes combining approaches including next-generation sequencing and molecular biotechnology tools to understand and manipulate the animal’s microbiome.

Ronholm’s research has the potential to effect transformational change in antibiotic resistance and infectious disease management and prevention, a critical issue that threatens not only livestock production but population health.

“My work is focused on understanding the microbial ecology of the livestock microbiome and if certain microbiome communities offer resistance to infectious diseases,” says Ronholm. “The idea is to exploit the power of the microbiome to prevent infections in livestock, thereby negating the use of antibiotics and preserving their use for human medicine.”

A rising star in the national and international scientific community

Ronholm’s groundbreaking work has gained international visibility.  She was selected as one of only twenty-five of the World Economic Forum’s Young Scientists in 2020 — and the only Canadian scientist to receive the prestigious award that year. She was also named as Pioneer in Nutrition and Food Science at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit in 2021.

Ronholm leads ongoing collaborations with international and national partners through a number of highly competitive grants, including an NSERC International Alliance Catalyst grant, a SSHRC New Frontiers in Research grant, and a Fonds de recherche du Québec FRQNT Team Research and Equipment grant.

In addition, Ronholm is the recipient of national awards including the Government of Canada Deputy Minister of Health’s Excellence in Research, a McGill William Dawson Scholar, and McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Science Prize for Teaching Excellence.

Using public engagement to address antimicrobial resistance

Ronholm’s rapidly rising profile reflects her ability to maintain a high level of productivity, having earned millions of dollars in competitive funding and publishing more than 60 publications in top-tier microbiology and biotechnology journals including Nature Biotechnology and Microbial Genomics.

Since starting her position at McGill in 2017, Ronholm has also held a remarkable track-record for an early career researcher in terms of instruction and mentorship, having supervised 55 students, including 25 undergraduate projects. “I see this prize as a vote of confidence in my lab’s work and our approach,” says Ronholm.

In addition to an impressive scholarship and teaching record, Ronholm is committed to public outreach with the goal of fighting against antimicrobial resistance. She has produced a documentary film on antimicrobial resistance and organized a student competition for producing short public outreach videos highlighting the causes and threats of antimicrobial resistance, and the actions citizens can take to tackle this problem.

Read the full article in the McGill Reporter

Back to top