Funded by a consortium of association and industry partners, the University of Lethbridge has appointed Dmytro Yevtushenko as research chair in potato science.
“Thanks to the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) and the remarkable people at the University who have the vision for the potato and agriculture in Alberta, I can start this program in a relatively short time,” said Yevtushenko, who arrived in January 2016.
The PGA, McCain Foods, Lamb Weston and Cavendish Farms have invested $1 million over five years to establish the Chair in Potato Science. Western Canada has few researchers dedicated to the potato industry and the new chair will enhance and expand the current capacity. The PGA is a non-profit potato grower organization working to increase the success of the Alberta potato growing industry, currently worth $1 billion annually.
“Local growers and processors welcome Dr. Yevtushenko and we are eager to start working with him,” says Terence Hochstein, the PGA’s executive director. “Our membership identified a need for university-level research and education in the potato industry and we are excited to have Dr. Yevtushenko and his expertise available to us.”
Yevtushenko plans to co-ordinate his research programs with the needs of the local industry. His major research interests are in the areas of plant biotechnology and breeding, with focus on crop improvement and food safety using modern techniques that involve molecular biology, plant tissue culture, and genetics. While he has researched many plant species, he prefers working with potatoes. His experience working in the plant biotechnology industry has given him an appreciation for the concerns of producers. He has a broad range of research expertise, including development of potato genotypes with wide-spectrum disease resistance and large-scale production of virus-free seed potatoes in vitro. Among other projects, his research plans include improvement of tuber yields through epigenetic enhancement of current potato cultivars and speeding up the potato breeding process using innovative methods.
Yevtushenko was born in central Ukraine and attended Kiev State University, as it was then called. He wanted to be a scientist ever since he was in middle school and he arrived at university wanting to study nature and the environment. He discovered a passion for plant biology and completed a Ph.D at the Institute of Cell Biology and Genetic Engineering in Kiev. He came to Canada for a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Guelph. Since then, he’s worked at the University of Victoria and held various other positions.
Source: University of Lethbridge newsletter