August 17th, 2019

U of L appoints VP research to second term

By Mabell, Dave on May 8, 2019.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

Much has been accomplished since agricultural scientist Erasmus Okine became the vice-president for research at the University of Lethbridge.

Research funding has grown, the number of designated “research chairs” has mushroomed and the university is now ranked among the top three undergraduate research institutions in Canada.

So the university’s board of governors has eagerly appointed Okine to a second five-year term in that position.

“We are extremely pleased Erasmus has been reappointed for another five years,” says U of L president Mike Mahon.

“His work to create connections between our researchers and external groups cannot be overemphasized. Erasmus has built strong relationships with funding agencies, industry, community groups and government.”

Originally from Ghana, Okine completed bachelor and master of science degrees there before coming to Alberta to complete a doctorate at the University of Alberta. He was invited to come to U of L as research vice-president in 2015.

Since then, the number of faculty members named as Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada has doubled, three more U of L names have been added to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists – and the university’s first Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom was celebrated.

The U of L has also placed consistently among the country’s top three undergraduate research institutions in Research Infosource’s annual rankings. And total new research funding has climbed steadily, reaching $20 million in 2017, up from $8 million in 2015.

At the same time, 18 more research chairs were secured in time for the university’s 50th anniversary in 2017 – exceeding the goal of achieving 50 research chairs by that landmark date. One of the chairs, Borries Demeler, was recruited as one of the 24 “Canada 150 Research Chairs” awarded across the country.

Okine has also been successful in increasing the number of partners from industry, non-governmental organizations, government agencies and other universities by about 60 per cent.

“I am grateful to be reappointed as vice-president of research and I remain committed to disciplinary pursuits that lead to knowledge and understanding,” says Okine.

That includes basic research, scholarly inquiry, applied and adaptive research, creative activities and knowledge exchange.

“Our many partnerships and collaborations reflect the world-class research being done at the U of L, and I look forward to continuing to build our research portfolio.”

In his own research meanwhile, Okine has been focusing on the impact and mitigation of greenhouse gases, and increasing the efficiency and productivity of livestock. His leadership skills have helped international scientists improve the fatty acid profile of beef and milk, and have also helped develop an innovative nutrition tool to reduce methane emissions from cattle.

He served as senior researcher at Alberta Agriculture’s research centre at Lacombe before returning to the U of A as a professor, then a department chair and ultimately the university’s associate vice-president (academic) as well as associate vice-president for research.

Okine is a member of the Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Committee, which provides strategic advice and recommendations research and innovation to the Alberta government. For his leadership in agricultural research, Okine has received a number of awards including the Alberta Premier’s Silver Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research.

He has also been named a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Animal Science, and a Fellow of the International College of Nutrition.

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