This summer, the University of Lethbridge is partnering with South Grow and Alberta Southwest to host an Agri-Food Summer Speaker series.

The first event was June 29th, and Dr. Kim Stanford was one of the panelists.We thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up with her and see what kind of projects she has on the go.

Hi Kim! From what we hear, you have your fingers in a few pies at uLethbridge. Can you tell us about them?
Sure. I have three main projects running right now:

  • Strategies to better deal with cereal ergot (a toxic fungus) in feed for cattle
  • Preventing future human disease outbreaks caused by contamination of food with the bad kind of E. coli.
  • Cows on the Planet - a series of podcasts about beef industry issues targeted to Canadians.

I have just finished interviewing and recording the first podcast which hopefully answers the question “Are feedlots cruel to cattle?”

We love podcasts at ORIS! It is such a great way to fill that edutainment itch while multi-tasking with something that needs hands. What excites you about these projects?
There is little known about ergot fungi, so in every project we learn a lot of new things which is always exciting. For instance: did you know that ergot can increase the risk of heat stress in cattle? Something to think about during a heat wave.

There is also a great group of collaborators working on this project which is a lot of fun - Karen Genswein and Tim McAllister with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada here in Lethbridge, Gabriel Ribeiro and Barry Blakley at the University of Saskatchewan, Mary Lou Swift of Trouw Nutrition, Okotoks and Dian Schatzmeyer of Biomin.

For the E. coli project, there are lots of people working on this all over the world. It is always a pleasure to be a part of a group of like-minded folks moving science forward on an issue. Preventing future human disease outbreaks is particularly challenging because as few as 10 cells of the bad kind of E. coli can make people sick, which is a very low dose.

I am lucky to be working with such a great group of people on this project as well: Xiaqin Yang of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lacombe, Claudia Navarez of the University of Manitoba, Leluo Guan of the University of Alberta, Gillian Tarr of the University of Minnesota, Eduardo Figueiredo of the Federal University of Mato Grosso, Linda Chui of Alberta Health and Wellness, Christian Menge of the Frederich Loeffler Institute in Jena Germany.

Cows on the Plant is very different than anything I have ever done before, so I anticipate that I will learn a lot! I’m excited to share with everyone some chats with other scientists, farmers, and a variety of other experts.

I’m partnering with David Hill and Kasper Novak of the University of Lethbridge, Kim Ominski of the University of Manitoba and Tim McAllister to help me with this one.

Wow – it is exciting to see such a mix of industry and academic folks on these projects you’re leading, and this collaboration will only grow with your podcast. Can you give us a hint – who's up first for interviewing?
Yes, we’ll be reaching out to people all over the world for the podcast. The first interviewee will be Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein discussing cattle welfare. We have an exciting potential lineup, but I don’t want to name names until we have confirmations. You’ll just have to stay tuned to our social media to find out when we are launching and who’s up next!

Deal. Lethbridge is certainly in agriculture territory, is this what attracted you to do research at uLethbrige?
No, actually it was a three-year contract! I used to be at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry before they closed their research program in 2020. This move gives me the opportunity to continue what I started there, and the freedom to do some really fun stuff like the podcast.

Before we let you go, tell us one fun fact about you!
Most of my previous vacations have been by bicycle. I highly recommend it! It will give you a better appreciation for your environment than other mechanized forms of travel.

Keep up with the Agri-Food summer series by following us on social media, and watch our website for event updates!

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