The director of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Applied Genomics Centre, Paul Adams, will give a free public lecture about the uses of genetics on Feb. 15 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Vancouver’s Science World.
As a part of the ongoing KPU-Science World Speaker Series, “The Power of Genetics: Building an Innovative and Sustainable Future in Agriculture” will cover the fundamentals of genetics, the evolution of genetic technologies, and what the field’s advances mean for sustainable agriculture in B.C.
“We do work using genetic tools in agriculture, helping companies and different government organizations improve their agriculture practices and help them innovate new products,” Adams says.
“I’ll be talking … about genetics, what is genetics, why do we care about genetics, and how can genetics be used positively for improving agriculture.”
The presentation will last for about 30 to 40 minutes. Afterwards, attendees can visit about nine booths, run by the KPU Applied Genomics Centre’s students and staﬀ, to learn about specific projects the centre is working on and participate in interactive activities where they can practice their genetic skills and learn more about the topic, Adams says.
One of the tables will cover the centre’s project on breeding heat-tolerant beef, while another will highlight the hop-breeding program they have with one of their partners. At that booth, attendees will be able to see some of the newly produced hops and taste beer from the KPU brewery that was made using them.
“We have another table talking about our work with microorganisms,” Adams says.
“There’s lots of microorganisms in the soil. There’s some that infect plants, and so we do work with different partners to help them study those bacteria or those microorganisms and [find] solutions for helping prevent the spread of those or detection of those [microorganisms].”
Adams says the centre focuses on genetics in agriculture because it is an underserved area in B.C. When compared to other applications like human health, genetic tools traditionally have not been available to agriculture in a big way.
“You can’t have healthy humans if you’re not feeding them well, so [having] healthy humans is very much dependent on a healthy agriculture industry in B.C. If we want sustainable food over the decades, we need to be making sure we’re doing improvements to that,” he says.
“There’s pests, and there’s climate change. All of these pressures are coming against agriculture, and we need to be innovative and creative in ways to improve that and support moving forward. These tools are intended to help with that.”
Adams hopes attendees take away a broader understanding of genetics as well as its importance and relevance from the event.
“Specifically for the students, I hope they see the opportunities at KPU. Our research centre is a place for students to come and work,” he says.
“Some students come and get their honours thesis work done in our centre. We have student volunteers. A lot of the undergrad courses come in for tours and education. So I hope KPU students … feel like they could reach out and maybe participate.”
To register for the event, visit kpu.ca/science/power-of-genetics.