Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

McGill's latest COVID-19 measures >>>>

Macdonald Campus's COVID-19 measures >>>>


AES Strategic Research Plan

At a glance

100tenure-track
faculty
29peer
awards
15Mannual
research funding
500papers
annually

 

The AES Strategic Research Plan

Our Faculty’s world-class research is expressed across six core themes. The richness and complexity of the web of inter-relations between research themes illustrated in the AES Strategic Research Plan fosters inter-disciplinary interactions at multiple levels.


Environment, Ecology, and Sustainability (Theme 1)

In the face of environmental fluctuation, increasingly rapid global changes- climate, technology, population, and consumption and increased urbanization- affect the ecosystems and their sustainability at all scales and across scales. Theme 1 addresses some of the most pressing environmental and ecological challenges facing our country and our planet. Environmental and ecological research at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences centers on the Earth’s physical and biotic environments, how these environments interact with human activities and impact human health, with a view toward sustainable and resilient management of diverse social-ecological systems.

Applied ecology, which we define as ecological research focused on real-world questions, and often related to environmental management, is a central focus of this research theme. Linking applied ecology to the decision-making process for effective problem-solving requires that ecological studies are complemented by building a better understanding of the social, economic, political, and institutional systems affecting the human relationship with the biosphere.

View all the Faculty members conducting research in Environment, Ecology and Sustainability

Keywords (click a keyword to view Faculty expertise in that area)

Biodiversity | Climate change | Ecology | Ecosystems | Environment

Water, Soil and their Sustainable Management (Theme 2)

Conservation and sustainable management of soil and water resources are critical for our collective future. Theme 2 recognizes the importance of conserving and managing soil and water, two fundamental components of sustainable land-use systems. There is an urgent need to evaluate how climate change may be exacerbating other natural and anthropogenic factors that affect the resilience and productivity of soil ecosystems and their supporting hydrological processes.

Sustainable agro-ecosystems require efficient use of water, nutrients and energy to produce high quality, nutritious food for the world’s population. Yet, soil and water systems are increasingly exposed to pollutants, including pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, microplastics and emerging compounds, which may have unexpected consequences on the health of soil and aquatic environments. Management of agro-ecosystems and natural environments must concentrate on mitigation of and adaptation to ongoing climate change.

View the Faculty members conducting research in Water, Soil and their Sustainable Management

Keywords (click a keyword to view Faculty expertise in that area)

Carbon management | Greenhouse gases | Soil | Soil and water systems | Water

Sustainable Crop and Livestock Production Systems (Theme 3)

There is an urgent need to sustainably produce low-input, affordable, accessible and high-quality livestock and crop products, while protecting biodiversity and resiliency of agriculture. Theme 3 comprises the scientific information required for the development of sustainable plant and animal production systems in the context of a changing environment, characterized by climate change, population growth, increased urbanization and changes in consumer values and demands. Such development requires the integration of knowledge from conventional and emerging approaches.

There have been tremendous increases in our understanding of how plant and livestock production affect the environment. Strategies to address these stresses and limitations need to align with changing consumer expectations regarding the quality of the products and ethical issues. Concepts such as carbon footprint, animal welfare, and better food distribution are considered in the development of truly sustainable crop and livestock production systems.

View the Faculty members conducting research in Sustainable Crop and Livestock Production

Keywords (click a keyword to view Faculty expertise in that area)

Abiotic and biotic stress | Agriculture | Agri-food pathogens | Animal production | Dairy
Economics | Emerging tools for plant and animal production | Plant-microbe interactions
Plant production | Regulatory frameworks | Sustainable management systems

Safe, Nutritious, and Secure Food Supply (Theme 4)

To feed a growing world population, all food system components need to sustainably deliver nutrients more effectively by understanding the impact of food characteristics, food transformation and food processing on nutritional health and food safety. Research theme 4 focuses on supporting the production of safe, nutritious, and healthy food. The entire food system is a unified infrastructure comprising ecological, economic and social dimensions. The use of integrative computational approaches for large dataset analysis can result in dramatic effects on food production via in silico modelling of various scenarios and contexts. Food system innovations require an understanding of the functionality and characteristics of foods during their processing.

Development of novel biocatalytic approaches to produce large amounts of well-targeted bioactive functional ingredients and nutraceutical molecules will provide a major avenue of innovation for the agri-food industry, and an excellent opportunity to improve population health. Building advanced profiling of chemicals in complex food matrices is emerging as an area of significant interest, driven by rising concerns about the presence of toxicants in foods and their subsequent effect on human health.

View the Faculty members conducting research in Safe, Nutritious and Secure Food Supply

Keywords (click a keyword to view Faculty expertise in that area)

Food safety | Food science | Food security | Foodomics
Natural and functional food products | Nutrient diversity
 

Human Nutrition and One Health (Theme 5)

Facing challenges related to health and well-being while considering environment impacts, Research Theme 5 aims to benefit individuals, communities, economic systems of food production and society as a whole. “One Health” is a multidisciplinary collaborative approach to solving global and environmental health challenges. First coined in 2007, this concept is now widely adopted across multiple disciplines and policy bodies focused on health care for humans, animals and the environment.

The One Health approach involves understanding optimal nutrition in health and disease, the quality and safety of nutrition, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as parasitic infections, influenza), and food, vector and environmentally transmitted pathogens (such as Cryptosporidia, malaria, Toxoplasma, gastrointestinal roundworms). One Health also encompasses the protection and improvement of human and animal health and well-being.

View the Faculty members conducting research in Human Nutrition and One Health

Keywords (click a keyword to view Faculty expertise in that area)

Animal models | Contaminants | Food governance and policy | Gene-environment interactions | Health | Indigenous health | Microbiome | Nutrition | Parasites

Bioproducts, Biomaterials & Bioenergy (Theme 6)

Bioproducts, biomaterials, and bioenergy are foundational components of the bioeconomy. In this theme, bioproducts refer to consumer and industrial goods manufactured from biomaterials, which are substances of biological origin. Likewise, bioenergy refers to energy derived from biological activity, either directly (e.g. microbial fuel cells) or indirectly (e.g. oxidation of biomaterials) excluding sources that are non-renewable on human timescales, such as fossil hydrocarbons.

Research in biomaterials, bioproducts, bioprocessing, and bioenergy is necessary to advance the shift to a bioeconomy. This shift addresses pressing global challenges, such as climate change, greenhouse gas reduction, water pollution, renewable energy supply, food security and safety, while providing economic benefits and aligning with consumer expectations. Furthermore, the development of biomaterials and bioproducts that are biomimetic, with micro/nano-structures inspired by natural materials (e.g. lightweight cellular materials and structures) imparts multifunctionality as well as functional and structural stability

View the Faculty members conducting research in Bioproducts, Biomaterials & Bioenergy

Keywords (click a keyword to view Faculty expertise in that area)

Bio-based products | Biomass | Engineering | Renewable energy | Smart materials
Value addition | Waste management

Back to top