How USask Arts and Science researchers are combating the world's biggest challenges
Source: University of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is the perfect base to help combat the world’s biggest challenges, with 651,900 km2 of arable farmland, millions of acres for crop production and strong agricultural exports that enable progressive research on food security.

Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan River Basin is being developed as a high-quality observatory for hydrology researchers to monitor the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the boreal forest and the Prairies.

This—and much more—explains why top-notch researchers are flocking to the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

At the university’s College of Arts and Science, researchers are leading global progress in more than 60 areas of study.

Their work truly changes the world. Thanks to a commitment to community-engaged research and knowledge mobilization, USask research goes beyond just publishing an academic journal or textbook.

At the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), computational biologist Dave Schneider is integrating computer science and big-data analytics with plant molecular and cell biology research to better understand how crops adapt to and thrive in less than optimal settings. Schneider was recently recruited by renowned plant scientist Leon Kochian for his $20-million Canadian government-funded research program in food systems and security.

“Leon is trying to create an environment where students are being mentored not just in biology but also in the computational and statistical methods needed to understand the meaning of the experiments they conduct,” says Schneider.

Source: University of Saskatchewan

“It’s training the students and post-doctoral fellows to be more self-sufficient in a way not being done elsewhere.”

Over at the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS), researchers are developing the crucial modelling tools, techniques and policies to sustainably manage the world’s freshwater resources in an era of unprecedented climate change.

Newly-recruited NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti will work as the Canada 150 Research Chair in Hydrology and Remote Sensing, tracking how freshwater availability is changing around the world using next-generation computer models.

It’s exciting work that will have an “impact around the world”, according to USask Vice-President of Research, Karen Chad.

“With a warming climate, changing extremes of flooding and drought and increased food production demands, the world’s freshwater resources are under unprecedented levels of stress,” says Famiglietti.

“Without technological advances and new approaches to water management, I see a future in which we will be very challenged to produce the food that we need for this growing world population. I am excited to be joining the outstanding team at the U of S, which is helping to address this critically important global challenge.”

USask students in the combined arts and science bachelor’s programs will be among the biggest benefactors from the arrival of these world-class scientists and researchers to their campus.

For these programs, the Canadian public research university offers these options as majors: environment and society, health studies and interactive systems design. Their unique, modern and interdisciplinary features are noteworthy.

Source: University of Saskatchewan

In the environment and society program, students are exposed a broad range of areas related to the environment. It takes the approach that preparing students for employment and further study related to the environment requires an understanding of environmental science, resource management, environmental philosophy, policy and environmental studies.

Health studies, on the other hand, is where students specialize in science, social sciences and the humanities/fine arts. Using an integrative perspective, students learn how the various aspects of health and wellness, including mental health, are understood within the context of interrelated systems such as the individual, society, culture and the environment.

The goal for the interactive systems design program is  to produce graduates trained in every aspect of the design and development of interactive systems. Combining courses in art and art history, psychology and computer science, students develop knowledge and skills in several critical areas: principles of visual communication; critical approaches to visual systems; fundamentals of human perception, memory and cognition; and the principles of computation and programming needed to design, build and evaluate games and interactive systems.

The College of Arts and Science has a history illustrated with examples of award-winning breakthroughs arising from the union of several disciplines. From the work of cognitive scientist and philosopher Paul Thagard, to scientist and Ducks Unlimited Canada CEO Karla Guyn; the College’s Alumni of Influence demonstrate an impressive track record for producing graduates and research that matter.

College of Arts and Science Dean Peta Bonham-Smith describes it best: “Great discoveries occur when we connect old ideas together in ways no one else imagined.”

For more information on the U of S, click here.

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