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Manitobans’ Grain Research Earns Major Award

“It’s a reflection of the excellence we have in Canada.”

– ISABELLE BLAIN, NSERC

For the second time in three years, Manitobans have received one of Canada’s most prestigious prizes for scientific research.

Digvar Jayas, a University of Manitoba agricultural engineer, and Noel White, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada entomologist, have been awarded the 2008 Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering.

Jayas and White received the $250,000 prize for their work on preventing damage from insects, fungi and bacteria in stored grain. An official presentation took place at the U of M Feb. 25.

The Brockhouse Award was last given in 2006 to a team involving the University of Manitoba, also for agricultural research.

Jayas and White have spent much of their respective careers studying ways to prevent spoilage in stored grain. Their work at the Canadian Wheat Board’s Centre for Grain Storage Research at the University of Manitoba has produced several innovations.

One involves using carbon dioxide instead of toxic chemicals to kill insects in grain bins. This led to CO2 being registered as an insecticide in the 1990s.

Another is flowing air through grain bins horizontally instead of vertically. Besides doing a better job of ventilation, this also uses less energy.

Still another is a computer modelling system to predict the effect of various factors, such as bin size and weather conditions, on grain spoilage. A prototype is under development.

The Brockhouse award is named after Bertram Brockhouse, a Canadian scientist and co-recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Physics. It is given out by the Natural Sciences and Engineer ing Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Isabelle Blain, vice-president of NSERC’s research grants and scholarships directorate, said the award is special because it’s for interdisciplinary work involving groups of researchers with different backgrounds.

This gives the award a certain “wow factor” unique among scientific prizes, Blain said.

“It’s a reflection of the excellence we have in Canada.” [email protected]

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