It is good to be back at school

Fall 2013

Ian Andvaag

Schulich Leader at University of Saskatchewan

It is good to be back at school. While I had a fantastic gap year travelling, working and learning a lot, I'm nonetheless glad to be learning in a more rigorous environment.

I'm very grateful to have received the Schulich Leader Scholarship. University has been quite intense and I have been dealing with some significant personal issues, and having a scholarship such as this means one less stress on me. I am really enjoying most of my classes, particularly Biology and Chemistry, but have been somewhat disappointed with my major of Agriculture. The first year courses appear to be geared towards students coming from traditional agricultural backgrounds, many of whom will be returning to the farm after completing a degree. I'm much more interested in the science side of agriculture than has been presented to date.

Thinking back to this past summer and my garden, my classes have made me consider the vast number of times the Krebs cycle must have been repeated for me to enjoy a home-canned pickle. Knowledge is truly powerful. I will never again look at a soil in the same way after having learned about cation exchange capacity. The universe is remarkable. Over the Christmas break I hope to analyze some of the yield data I collected this past summer and do a germination test on some heirloom seeds I harvested.

I have been fortunate this fall to attend various lectures and presentations on Agriculture, thanks to the AgBio faculty's network. Particularly noteworthy was a presentation by author and environmentalist Mark Lynas. He presented his journey of becoming convinced by science, and provided the scientific tools so I could inform myself on the benefits and pitfalls of GM seed production.

As I write this entry I am the sensor in an experiment with using Chlorophytum comosum (spider plants) for improving indoor air quality. No perceptible impact appears to be made on odour producing substances commonly occurring in college dorms.