Each year, students in the Faculty are presented with a myriad of opportunities to learn, explore, and shine. From research to entrepreneurship, the students in the FAES make us proud of their achievements.

3-Minute Thesis (3MT) 

Presenters and judges – 2019 Macdonald 3MT Competition

On Friday, January 25, 2019, 11 passionate Macdonald campus graduate students each presented their thesis research in 3-minutes flat.  The Faculty Lounge was full to capacity — latecomers lining the wall.  Using only 1 visual aid (a slide), competitors articulated the nuts and bolts of their research drawing us into the world of its importance and future impact.  The enthusiastic audience selected the crowd favourite.  But, our astute panel of judges had the daunting task of singling out the most impressive presentations from a slate of stellar performances.

Many thanks to our Judges: Micheline Ayoub (MSc’93, PhD’02) Programme Manager, Genome Québec; Nathalie Zinger (BScAgr’81), Executive Coordinator, Conservation Engagement, Nature Conservancy of Canada; Associate Dean (Graduate Education) Ian Strachan; Mariam Saad (PhD candidate, Parasitology); and Kathy MacLean (BScAgr’81), Manager of Communications at Macdonald.

View photos on our Flickr site.

Congratulations are extended to all “Mac” 3MT participants.

  • First Place: Anthony Iheonye, PhD candidate (Bioresource Engineering) – The vigorous shake that could save onions
  • Second Place: Emily Curry, PhD candidate (Parasitology) – Canines and aliens
  • Third Place: Nicoletta Giulivi, MSc candidate (Agricultural Economics) – Harnessing technologies for agricultural development in Nepal: The power of information
  • People’s Choice Award: Marina Nguyen, MSc candidate (Food Science) – Protecting our food and health with essential oils

These four students moved on to compete in the McGill 3-MT Finals, held on March 12. Congratulations to Marina Nguyen (Food Science – min 47:43) for her Third-Place finish; and to Emily Curry (Parasitology – min 1:08:48), Anthony Iheonye (Bioresource Engineering – min 2:01:25) and Nicoletta Giulivi (Agricultural Economics – min 2:09:10) for a job well done!

Watch the McGill 3MT Livestream.

Dobson Cup

On March 27, seven teams involving FAES students were among the top 40 teams who pitched their best ideas during the 2019 finals of the McGill Dobson Cup powered by National Bank.  Hosted by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, the Dobson Cup is McGill’s flagship start up competition that enables emerging McGill entrepreneurs to compete for over $200,000 in prize money.

Congratulations to all the FAES students who competed!

Dobson finalists: PDT Food Depot; MicroPredictome; Cannafish; Observe Agriculture; SCBY; Interius Farms (Photos: Dobson Cup)

2nd Place in Social Enterprise Track ($12,000) + Murdoch Family Initiative Prize – $6,000
PDT Food Depot (Social Enterprise Track) redistributes unwanted yet legal, safe and edible surplus food from producers to people in need in South Eastern China.

Co-Founders: Jiahua Chen (MSE), Ying Zhang (Nutrition-U2), Ye Zheng (Civil Engineering-U2), Yitong Hu (Wuhan University, China)

 MicroPredictome (Health Sciences Track) aims to create licensable AI algorithms to predict the risk of different gastrointestinal diseases based on sequencing data from the bacterial population of the human gut.

Co-founders: Ryszard Kubinski, Alexis Nolin-Lapalme, Reilly Pidgeon, Dennis Park (NRS), Luca Cuccia.

3rd Place Innovation Driven Enterprise Track – $8,000
Cannafish works with functional fish farms, to offer a biological waste treatment service, transforming their waste stream into a stable usable nutrient solution for a hydroponic crop production system.

Co-founders:  David Leroux (Bioresource Engineering), Nicolas Martel-Bouchard (BSc AgEcon’19) and Neelay Patel (FSc).

Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize – $5,000
Observe Agriculture develops sensors that help growers gain instant access to crop information, allowing them to better manage and market their products.

Co-founders:  Mohamed Debbagh (Bioresource Engineering), Roberto Buelvas (Bioresource Engineering), Zachary Markofsky (BA’17)

SCBY has developed a truly sustainable and cruelty-free leather alternative entirely grown from microbes.

Co-founders: Samuel Eichhorn Bilodeau (Bioresource Engineering), Ryan Knight (Bioresource Engineering), Kevin Parmenter, Ian Burelle (Bioresource Engineering)

Interius Farms uses novel vertical farming techniques to grow produce on-site year-round.Co-founders: Lucie Couderc (BSc BioChem’19), Jonathan Lawson (Desautels), Tristan Zeman (BCom’17),  Lucas McCartney (PhD Bioresource Engineering’18), AJ Blake (Bioresource Engineering).


The McGill Dobson Cup powered by National Bank and hosted by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship is McGill’s flagship startup competition that enables emerging McGill entrepreneurs to compete for over $150,000 in prize money.

There are 4 Tracks in the McGill Dobson Cup: Innovation Driven Enterprise, Small & Medium Enterprise, Social Enterprise, and Health Sciences. 

McGill Dobson Cup teams will also benefit from the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of world-class entrepreneurs and judges who will offer guidance on how to move their ideas forward.

Green Keepers – recipients of the Macdonald Innovation & Entrepreneurship Prize ($5,000)

L-R: Camelia Oliva (MSc Thesis student, Food Science), Yi Zhang (PhD candidate, Food Science), Paola Sully (MSc Thesis student, Food Science),Dr. Benjamin Simpson (Supervisor), Shuting Huang ( PhD candidate, Food Science), Dr. Yixiang Wang (Supervisor)

We produce compostable, biodegradable and non-toxic “green” straws using natural biopolymers extracted from marine and agricultural waste materials.  We plan to launch “green” straws as our first competitive product on the market as an alternative to synthetic straws.  Our ultimate goal is to provide a sustainable approach to reduce synthetic plastics to support our cause for a greener future.

Co-founders:  Paola Sully, MSc (thesis) Food Science; Camelia Oliva, MSc (thesis) Food Science;  Shuting Huang, PhD student Food Science;  Yi Zhang, PhD candidate, Food Science. Mentors:  Prof Benjamin K. Simpson and Prof Yixiang Wang

Lean Start-Up

Nine early-stage McGill startups took part in the 9-week McGill Lean Startup Program from October 3 to December 3, 2018. This extra-curricular entrepreneurship program walked the McGill teams through the lean startup methodology designed by UC Berkeley’s Steve Blank in order to prepare them for the McGill Dobson Cup 2019 and McGill X-1 Accelerator. The Program exists to help build the next generation of visionaries, game-changers and innovators.

This is not your usual program. It is a simulation of what startups and entrepreneurship are like in the real world, including chaos, uncertainty, impossible deadlines, and conflicting input. Students enroll to build a viable business. The course involves getting their hands dirty and getting outside the McGill campus to speak to industry leaders and test ideas.

Facilitated by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, the Program brings together experienced alumni, McGill Dobson Cup winners, McGill X-1 Accelerator participants, professors from McGill University, and mentors from the Montreal entrepreneurship community and beyond. With years of industry experience to share, Nancy Adessky-Croitoru, BSc(FSc)’78, participated as a judge of the Lean Start-up and shared “I was completely blown away by the fantastic projects, the professionalism of the students and the opportunities this competition provides them with.  I loved every minute of it and wished this kind of program was around when I was in school.”

Three Macdonald teams participated:

  • PDT FOOD DEPOT: Food bank in China that redistributes surplus food from farms and bakeries to communities in need
  • OBSERVE AGRICULTURE: Handheld instrument that measures active constituents in a given crop.
  • UGLY HARVEST: Turns “ugly” harvest and waste food into vegan and gluten-free products.