U of S PhD student awarded FFAR fellowship – the sole recipient in Canada.

This week, the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR), an American based organization, announced University of Saskatchewan PhD student, Suneru Perera, as a recipient of its prestigious Research and Development Fellowship – one of only 17 recipients of the annual award across North America, and the only Canadian recipient in 2018.

Perera’s research on canary seed (which until now was used almost exclusively as bird feed) focuses on a new, hairless breed of the seed, which was recently approved for human consumption by both the USDA and Health Canada. The food industry is heavily invested in finding plant based alternative protein sources, and Perera’s doctoral studies on the subject got FFAR’s attention.

In addition to his PhD work, Perera is employed as a scientist with KeyLeaf/POS – a position that Perera credits with giving him the inspiration for his studies.

“Meeting different clients from start-up to multi-national companies helped me understand the demand for alternate protein sources,” Perera says.

KeyLeaf/POS is a Saskatoon based bioprocessing, research, development and commercialization company that specializes in extraction, fractionation, purification and modification of bio-based materials. KeyLeaf/POS, in collaboration FFAR, funded the studies that got Perera the award. KeyLeaf/POS has been supportive of Perera’s academic and scientific pursuits at U of S and agreed to be his industry partner for the fellowship. Rick Green, President of Intellectual Capital at KeyLeaf/POS, says the FFAR fellowship is a great boon for all parties involved.

“The benefit is in helping develop Saskatchewan based and Canadian based technology that can be used to advance crops,” Green says.

The FFAR fellowship pairs PhD students with industry partners and academic mentors in pursuit of research projects and interdisciplinary training. The collaboration between KeyLeaf/POS and the University was pivotal in Perera receiving the award.

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