Lakeland College recently bounced to No. 20 on Research Infosource’s list of top 50 research colleges, a drastic improvement compared to last year’s ranking at No. 46.
Lorne MacGregor, the director of applied research and commercialization at Lakeland, took the time to explain some of the reasons for the college’s newfound position on the list.
“Well, it was a bit of a fluke. We don’t expect to maintain such a high ranking in the next year. There’s a couple of things that account for it. One is some really good work by a bunch of good people that did the work before I started here, so I can’t take any credit personally,” he said.
He said another reason was a large increase in financial support offered by the college’s funding partners which was used to pay for research infrastructure. Now that the infrastructure is in place, they don’t expect the same level of financial support in the near future. Because the ranking is based strictly on funding, it’s probable their ranking will slip in the coming years.
“We’ve started building the foundation. We got money for research infrastructure that will last us for 20 or 30 years,” he said. “So we don’t need to be going back every year saying ‘Give us another million dollars to build this.’ Because we already have it and it’s good for a long time.”
And now that Lakeland has put this money to work, MacGregor feels the school is in a better position to help its students. “We’re going to use the dollars we received to engage more students. So in the future, we’re going to have a lot more student involvement in research, we may not have as much money coming in but we think that makes us a better college.”
Lakeland’s main areas of exploration currently revolve around agriculture and renewable energy. MacGregor said the results of the funding can be seen in the increased number of students and faculty involved in research as well as new learning opportunities and the ability to work with people in the region to help solve problems in these main areas.
MacGregor also took the time to explain some of the specific projects Lakeland have been working on.
“We’ve done trials on trying some new types of feed on beef cattle and also comparing two different feeding regimes for lambs. And that had a lot of student involvement, the animal science students at the college have been involved in both those feeding trials on an ongoing basis. So that’s been kind of fun.”
The results of these trials also help local producers get a better idea regarding the best diet to get a good growth rate for their livestock.
Lakeland is also working with a company out of Killam that wants to grow Jerusalem artichokes. The college is trying to help the company determine the best varieties of artichokes, which pesticides to use and how to adapt harvesters to work with them because they are a different size of plant compared to the crops they’d normally harvest.
As for the information gleaned from all these projects, Lakeland would like it to go to people who will find it useful.
“We try to work directly with people who are going to use it as well as produce publications or things on a website that gets it in the hands of somebody who’s going to use it,” said MacGregor. “Rather than publish it in a scholarly journal where it’s not really accessible to the average person.”