Incorporating sustainable practices into research, teaching and service areas of colleges and institutes ultimately has a wider positive impact and also reaches employers and industry partners, says Ann Marie Vaughan, president and CEO of Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario.
Sustainability is a natural fit for Loyalist, which has a track record of leveraging clean technology for research and development, says Dr. Vaughan, and a recent Health Canada approval for a Controlled Drugs and Substances Licence for the purpose of research and analysis using medical cannabis is another milestone in affirming Loyalist's leadership role.
"We have significant programs in environmental sciences and biosciences, and [medical cannabis] research dovetails with both," says Dr. Vaughan, who adds that she doesn't know of any other post-secondary institution in Ontario holding such a licence. "The processes we use fall within the clean technology field and allow us to be on the cutting edge of new and exciting research and, at the same time, employ sustainable practices."
Biosciences professor Kari Kramp, who leads Loyalist's Supercritical CO2 Extraction Applied Research Laboratory, says the college's unique research infrastructure facilitates a discovery process that can help to advance this emerging sector.
"[Supercritical CO2 extraction] is the gold standard for natural products. For medical cannabis, our experiences with extraction and advanced analytical methods allow us to evaluate medically significant components of the cannabis plants," says Dr. Kramp. "This can inform best practices for the medical cannabis industry and help to provide consumers with safe, consistent and well-quantified products."
Dr. Kramp explains that Loyalist has been working with supercritical CO2 extraction for a decade, and the state-of-the-art laboratory offers industry partners access to a highly controlled and precise extraction process for separating biologically active compounds. "Our lab is acting as a bridge between academia and industry, and we work to advance products that have potential for commercialization in a two- to three-year timeframe," says Dr. Kramp. "We also reduce the risk for industry partners by evaluating the economic feasibility of using supercritical CO2 extraction."
In addition, students receive training in innovative and green technology, she adds. "On graduation, our students can make an immediate impact as highly qualified personnel in regional industries, and their skills can be applied in a number of areas, such as the food, pharmaceutical, agricultural and natural health product industry," says Dr. Kramp.
Last year's Provincial Key Performance Indicator (KPI) results support her statement: 87.4 per cent of Loyalist's most recent graduates found employment within six months of graduation, compared to the provincial average of 83.6 per cent.
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