Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

Unique scholarship program brings science and business together

The connection between science and business is an important one and one that’s gaining credence through the Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Graduate Scholarship program.

Funded under the OMAFRA-U of G Partnership, HQP scholarships are awarded to support future generations of researchers, policy-makers and innovators in agri-food. Students gain a better understanding of business models and business management while completing research in their area of study. 

The program also includes an important job shadowing component with a government, industry or community partner which provides students with valuable work experience. In most cases, the work semester also connects well with the student's research interests and future career goals. 

“This is a good opportunity for us,” says Neda Barjesteh, a current HQPstudent working on her PhD in the Ontario Veterinary College’s (OVC) Department of Pathobiology. “We can go to a company or a government agency where we’d like to work in the future. It’s experience beyond the academic side.”

Barjesteh completed her veterinary degree at the University of Kerman in Iran and worked as an advisor at a veterinary diagnostic lab for several years before coming to Canada.

Her research at OVC focuses on the avian influenza virus and developing new strategies to boost the chicken's immune system against the virus and control the shedding of virus.

“There isn’t a lot of information about the immune system in chickens, especially mucosal immune responses,” says Barjesteh. “This research will provide a better understanding of their immune responses, especially in the case of avian influenza virus infection.”

The HQP program has proven it’s a successful formula. Beyond making science accessible and applicable, it is the opportunity to bring science to the marketplace.

“The HQP has helped me so much,” says Neda. “I have research that I believe could be used for industry. It is not just research for the shelf.”

Students are exposed to business practices, commercialization (intellectual property and license protection), as well as the interactions between society and the agri-food system. 

For example, says Berjesteh, “students explore the steps involved to take a product produced in the laboratory, to a proposal to put the product into the business economy. They look at the target audience for that product, how to increase the consumer’s knowledge of that product and demonstrate the value of the product – all while considering government regulations, consumers, retailers, society and media.”

 Follow OVC at ovc.uoguelph.ca

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