New chair and vice-chair for Global Institute for Food Security board

SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is pleased to announce that two well-known contributors to Saskatchewan’s agriculture sector will become the new chair and vice-chair of the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) board of directors.

At its recent meeting, the GIFS board elected Alanna Koch as chair and Dr. Lorne Babiuk as vice-Chair. GIFS, located at the U of S, is a partnership of Nutrien, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the U of S.

Koch was unanimously welcomed back by the GIFS board in June of 2018, after taking a leave of absence from her position as Deputy Minister to the Premier of Saskatchewan during her bid for leadership of the Saskatchewan Party.

As Saskatchewan’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture for nine years, Koch worked closely with farmers and industry, building and maintaining public trust in agriculture by focusing on science-based decision making and communicating the benefits of modern tools and technology.

“As one of the longest serving agriculture deputy ministers in Saskatchewan and Canadian history, Alanna brings a great deal of wisdom and knowledge to the board,” said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research.

Before joining government, Koch was president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, a director with Agricore United (a predecessor of Viterra), and executive director of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.

Among other achievements, Koch is a recipient of the 2017 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award (Women’s Executive Network), the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal. In 2011, she was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame for her outstanding achievement in the sector. Koch and her husband both farm in Edenwold, Sask.

A world leader in Canadian vaccine and infectious disease research, Babiuk has devoted his career to Canadian-based research aimed at advancing the health of humans and animals in Canada and internationally.

Babiuk was instrumental in building the U of S Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO). He led VIDO to become an internationally recognized research powerhouse and launched a $140-million bio-containment facility—the International Vaccine Centre, the only one of its kind in Canada. Vaccines he was involved in developing have reduced mortality and morbidity from infectious diseases in animals and have had a significant impact on the economy.

Babiuk, who was a Canada Research Chair at U of S and served as vice-president research at the University of Alberta, has been a member of the GIFS board since January of 2018.

“Lorne’s leadership and experience in vaccine research brings a whole new wealth of expertise to the GIFS board, and one we will greatly benefit from,” said Chad.

Among his many honours, Babiuk is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a Member of the European Academy of Sciences.

Babiuk also received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame. He was awarded the 2012 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, the Killam Prize in health sciences in 2013, and the 2016 World Agriculture Prize of the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Chad said she and the board wish to thank Dr. Lorne Hepworth for his many years of service, both as a board member and chair.

“As one of the early members of the GIFS Board, Lorne was instrumental in the development of GIFS,” said Chad. “He helped build the organization which has grown to include research conducted by almost 120 scientists, research and graduate students. Lorne was a highly accomplished and respected member, and he will be dearly missed. We thank him for his years of service and wish him well in the future endeavours of his retirement.”

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Leanne Nyirfa
GIFS Communications
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