Dr. Evan Fraser has been reappointed as director of the University’s Arrell Food Institute (AFI). His second term begins Sept. 1 and will end in 2026.
Fraser was named in 2016 as the inaugural director of the institute, established with a $20-million donation from the Arrell Family Foundation, matched by the University.
The AFI works to improve global food systems by bringing together cutting-edge research, agricultural expertise, big data, community engagement, environmental science, business and civil society at U of G – all intended to find healthy, profitable and sustainable ways to feed a growing world population while preserving the planet’s ecosystems, said Fraser.
The institute builds on the University’s strong connections with government, international partners, industry and communities, and helps attract world-leading researchers, graduate students and experts.
“I’m delighted that Dr. Fraser will continue to lead the prestigious Arrell Food Institute,” said acting president Dr. Gwen Chapman. “Under his direction, the institute continues to attract leading scholars to U of G, supports researchers on and off campus, and further strengthens the University’s reputation as Canada’s food university.”
Fraser co-chairs the annual Arrell Food Summit and manages the Arrell Food Scholarship Program, an experiential learning program that prepares graduate students for leadership in the agri-food sector. Through the Arrell Food Innovation Awards, the institute delivers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to groups working to improve the global food system.
Fraser said he plans to continue pursuing a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to creating more sustainable agri-food systems, improving food safety, security and sovereignty, and strengthening food value chains.
He said the AFI will also expand student training and further widen engagement with governments, business, academia and other food system stakeholders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed existing food security challenges, Fraser said, including inequitable access to food, wider poverty concerns and labour issues from processing plants to restaurants and grocery stores.
“Overall, the pandemic has increased our awareness of food system-related issues and made the work of the Arrell Food Institute all the more pressing, relevant and visible. You can get at many of the big issues facing modern society through discussions around food systems.”
Earlier this year, Fraser was named co-chair of the newly established Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council, which advises the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on ways to help ensure a healthier, more prosperous and more sustainable food system.
The group, including experts from academia, agri-food, non-profits and the public sector, was established as part of the first-ever Food Policy for Canada, developed by the federal government in 2019.
Fraser is a professor in U of G’s Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society and a Fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.
The Arrell Family Foundation was created in 1999 by Tony and Anne Arrell, both U of G graduates. The foundation is dedicated to improving health and quality of life, which aligns with the University’s goal to improve life through research, teaching and innovation.
Dr. Evan Fraser