First WGRF Graduate Scholarship Winner Announced

WGRF is pleased to announce that the University of Manitoba has selected Sean Asselin as the recipient of the first ever WGRF Graduate Scholarship. “This grant really opens up a huge number of opportunities not only for my career development but for the development of the perennial grain breeding program at the University of Manitoba” said Sean. Sean became interested in agriculture, particularly breeding, because of the historical importance of crop development and the important role it plays in western Canada as well as globally. “I am very grateful to be the recipient of this grant and am excited to see what will come from this and other research supported through Western Grains Research Foundation. I hope to one day work as a crop breeder for the specific needs of western Canada and this grant is a great stepping stone to meet my goals.”

The main focus of Sean’s work will be characterizing the diversity and breeding potential of perennial sunflower species native to western Canada for their implementation in crop improvement and novel crop development. “Perennial sunflower species have a well-documented resistance to sclerotinia, stem rust and certain insect pests that exists naturally within the breeding pool. Sunflower also has a good potential for the development of a perennial oilseed crop due to its relatively high oil concentration or as an industrial crop due to naturally occurring rubber” noted Sean.

“We’re proud that a student from our faculty and our university is the first to receive this generous funding,” says Michael Trevan, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the University of Manitoba. “The award will encourage and support Sean’s research into stabilizing sunflower grain yield, which will in turn contribute to the sustainability and growth of Western Canada’s agriculture industry.”

The WGRF Graduate Scholarships will be administered on a rotating between the University of Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Each university will receive $100,000 every three years and can choose to fund one Ph.D. student at a rate of $33,000 per year for three years or two Master students at $25,000 per year for two years.
The WGRF Graduate Scholarship will help and encourage top students to further their studies in crop research. WGRF sees great value in attracting the best minds to crop research to generate improved technology and productivity for western crop producers.

The University of Alberta is now accepting applications for the WGRF Graduate Scholarship until April 1, 2012. Interested applicants can visit www.gradstudies.ualberta.ca/awardsfunding/scholarships/ for more information.

For further information, contact:

Mike Espeseth
Communications Manager
Western Grains Research Foundation
(306) 975-0365

WGRF Backgrounder

Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) is a farmer funded and directed non-profit organization investing primarily in wheat and barley variety development to benefit western Canadian producers. Through investments of over $57 million WGRF has assisted in the development and release of more than 100 new wheat and barley varieties over the past decade and a half, many of which are today seeded to large portions of the cropland in Western Canada. WGRF also invests in research on other western Canadian crops through the Endowment fund. Since 1981 the Endowment Fund has supported a wealth of innovation across Western Canada providing over $26 million in funding for over 230 research projects.