Research Profile: Kyle Bobiwash

October 16, 2013

SFU is proud to award our second Graduate Aboriginal Entrance PhD Scholarship to Kyle Bobiwash, of the Mississauga First Nation.

Kyle Bobiwash says, "My interest in science started at a young age, when I would scour the swamps and creeks near my home to collect aquatic animals and plants to raise in any watertight container I could get my hands on."

During his undergraduate degree, he conducted the first-ever analysis of the diverse public health delivery models among first nations in Canada. He then went on to analyze the delivery and outcomes of the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative across Canada to support the program's renewal.

He eventually found a way to combine his love of the outdoors with science at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute in Southern Ontario. There he had the opportunity to blend agriculture, chemistry, entomology and ecology while working alongside winemakers and grape farmers from around the globe.

Kyle's master's degree research looked at blueberry pollination and the use of multiple managed pollinators in fields to increase yield. He discovered that there was significant inbreeding in the New Brunswick fields as well as deleterious mutations accumulating in the plants. These findings may prove insightful to the movement towards using perennial plants in agriculture, revealing potential risks with the use of long lived plants.

There was also another practical application: The peak flowering periods were tracked and reported back to the farmers, who could make best use of that data to bring in pollinators to ensure larger berry crops.

At SFU, Kyle will be working with Dr. Elizabeth Elle, Biological Sciences, to investigate how enhancing farm habitat and agricultural management techniques might improve Highbush blueberry pollination and other ecosystem services. Since BC's blueberry crop is the largest production by region in the world, his research has great potential to help our local farming community and our province's economy.

Kyle says, "incorporating natural habitat into farm systems will be key for agriculture going forward." He adds, "school might not always be this fun but loving my research area, having an awesome lab group and being in a beautiful region will surely get me through the days of hard work ahead."

Added in 2016:
Kyle Bobiwash did a fantastic presentation about his work for the 6th Annual Aboriginal Students in Math and Science Workshop, January 14, 2016. See video below.

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