I thought it was time I put some Botanist into this blog. So let me tell you a little bit about the place I spend most of my day!
The University of Saskatchewan
The U of S (or occasionally Usask – “Saskatchewan” is such a mouthful) is a series of beautiful sandstone buildings scattered across expansive lawns and interspersed with a generous smattering of elm trees, on the Western side of the South Saskatchewan river. In my very humble opinion, it’s the most beautiful part of Saskatoon (and I’m not the only one who thinks so). The institution began as an agricultural college in 1906, and agriculture is still a really vibrant and important part of research here now – Medicine, dentistry and health science also make up a large portion of undergraduate teaching and research, alongside the colleges of Engineering, Law, and Education (just so’s you all know how unbiased I am).
Research at U of S
Agriculture and Food Sustainability is one of the University’s six “Signature Areas“, along with Aboriginal engagement; Energy and mineral resource sustainability; Animal and human health; Synchrotron technologies; and water security.
Projections show that food production must double by 2050 to feed the world’s growing population. We are working to strengthen Saskatchewan’s agricultural leadership with new science, technology and policies to help feed a hungry world adequately, safely and sustainably.
-Agriculture: Food and Bioproducts for a Sustainable Future
The College of Agriculture and Bioresources employs 350 faculty and research staff and manages almost 5000 acres of test plots. In addition, Usask has commercial relationships with the Global Institute of Food Security (me!! check us out here) and the Canadian Feed Research Centre (here). The combined intended outcomes of these institutions are innovative improvements in crop productivity and performance, better feeds for livestock, value-adding to agricultural bi-products, development of feed-based vaccines for improved human and animal health, and improvements in the biofuel sector. Pretty awesome stuff.
All the fun stuff
Aside from research and teaching, Usask offers all the trappings associated with the academic lifestyle (albeit on a grander scale than I am used to!). The bookstore carries a beautiful range of text books, arts supplies and “U of S” clothing and goodies, while the computer store offers purchasing specials to staff and students on all manner of techno-gadgets. There is food aplenty: a central food court (complete with Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and – my personal favourite – a creperie) is supplemented with other restaurants and “coffeehouses” throughout the various faculty buildings. Fancy dining and alcoholic beverages can be found at Louis’ (campus pub), the Marquis centre (pronounced “Mar-kwis” by the locals, despite their french culture), and the University Club if you’re staff or alumni (or are pretty much in any way associated with the University, or if you saved the life of a Stonecutter).
Health services are covered, too. As well as a medical clinic and pharmacy, on campus you’ll find a full dental treatment clinic and (for your furry loved ones) a veterinary hospital. For your physical well-being, the Physical Activity Complex (or PAC) has everything you could want from a gym, at a bargain price – $440 (plus tax – a kick in the pants every time) buys you a year’s access to the “Fitness Centre” (a huge, fully equipped gym), full sized lap pool, racquet-sport courts, fit classes, climbing wall (yes really!) and an indoor running track which encircles the rest of the building, for those mornings when it’s just too chilly to jog outside (most of them, IMHO).
Underground tunnel network
The University grounds are beautiful and extensive, and traversing them on foot is lovely – unless your face freezes off. For those pesky below-zero days, you can get around via an (admittedly confusing) network of underground tunnels and pretty skywalks. I doubt they’re haunted; and although getting lost in them is easy, it’s not as spooky as it sounds.
Of course, my building, the NRC, is not connected to the underground network, or the skywalks. No way around it, I’m gonna have to go outside in -40°C eventually.
This isn’t directly related to me in any way – but I’m adding it because I like it.
Saskatchewan has the highest First Nations population in the country, around 10.2% of the population in 2011, with a further 5.2% of people identifying as Métis and a few hundred as Inuit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Usask has a strong Aboriginal agenda which is based on providing supportive environments for aboriginal students, establishing strong connections with local Aboriginal communities and intercultural engagement. The Gordon Oaks Red Bear Student Centre was opened only this year as a gathering place to bring together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, traditions and cultures. By 2020, the University aims to have Aboriginal enrollment at 15% of total enrollment, reflective of the local population.
Just one more reason to be proud to be here.
Miss your faces. Jx.