Five University of Guelph discoveries are being recognized as life-changing breakthroughs by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

The discoveries are among 50 innovations from Ontario universities over the last 100 years in COU’s Research Matters campaign, which will include a contest with the public voting. The campaign includes five U of G innovations, beginning with the Yukon Gold potato in 1966 and concluding with research on a purported portrait of William Shakespeare in 2014.

John Livernois, interim vice-president (research), said, “We only just celebrated our 50th anniversary, so to have five discoveries from U of G selected is a significant accomplishment. This is life-changing research, which has had a major impact on the lives of many Canadians.”

The five University of Guelph innovations are as follows:

Revealing Identities: Prof. Daniel Fischlin, English and Theatre Studies, suggests that a 400-year-old painting portrays William Shakespeare, which would make this the only known portrait painted during the Bard’s lifetime.

Improving Health: Prof. Bruce Holub, Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, discovers trans fats harm human health, resulting in their virtual elimination from supermarket shelves.

Creating New Vaccines: Pathobiology professors Pat Shewen and Bruce Wilkie develop a vaccine against “shipping fever” pneumonia in cattle, which becomes the foundation for all vaccines against this major disease.

Digitizing DNA: Prof. Paul Hebert, Integrative Biology, proposes DNA barcoding for species identification, with applications from protecting global biodiversity to curbing food fraud.

Reinventing the Potato: Gary Johnston, Plant Agriculture, develops the Yukon Gold potato, giving new Canadians the kind of yellow-fleshed spud they had back home – its popularity has made it a household name.

Livernois said these discoveries show Guelph’s wide-ranging research strengths.

“The University of Guelph has a proud heritage in research, and we are pleased to see these accomplishments recognized. Even today, we are still seeing extraordinary research from many departments at the University.”

Starting April 1, the public will be invited to vote on the list of “game-changing” discoveries made at Ontario universities. To see a full list and to register for the contest, visit starting April 1.

Voting will continue all summer at fairs and public events as the 50 game-changers go on the road with the Research Matters’ Curiosity Shop. The public’s top five favourites will be announced in the fall, and contest participants will be eligible for a draw.