Perspectives Newsletter Spring 2019
Vol. 42, no.1 / Posted on June 20, 2019

DigvirJayasThe College of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Saskatchewan recently announced that along with more 3,700 University of Saskatchewan students crossing the stage to receive their parchments at Spring Convocation so too did colleague and alumnus Dr. Digvir S. Jayas when he received the prestigious earned Doctor of Science degree on June 5th  at the ceremony at Merlis Belsher Place. The D.Sc. is an academic research degree awarded in a number of countries throughout the world which is awarded in recognition of substantial and sustained contributions to scientific knowledge beyond that required for a typical doctorate.

From humble beginnings as a student and farmhand working outside of New Delhi, to serving as a distinguished professor and vice-president at the University of Manitoba, Digvir Jayas’ career may be proof that you reap what you sow.

Distinguished Professor, Dr. Digvir S. Jayas was educated at the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in Pantnagar, India; the University of Manitoba, and the University of Saskatchewan. Before assuming the position of Vice-President (Research and International), he held the position of Vice-President (Research) for two years and Associate Vice-President (Research) for eight years. Prior to his appointment as Associate Vice-President (Research), he was Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Department Head of Biosystems Engineering, and Interim Director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer and a Registered Professional Agrologist and is currently serving as the Interim President of NSERC.

Dr. Jayas is a former Tier I (Senior) Canada Research Chair in Stored-Grain Ecosystems. He conducts research related to drying, handling and storing grains and oilseeds and digital image processing for grading and processing operations in the Agri-Food industry. He has authored or co-authored over 900 technical articles in scientific journals, conference proceedings and books dealing with issues of storing, drying, handling and quality monitoring of grains. He has collaborated with researchers in several countries but has had significant impact on the development of efficient grain storage, handling and drying systems in Canada, China, India, Ukraine and USA.

As a child growing up under the charge of his grandparents on a farm 150 kilometres southeast of New Delhi, India, Jayas saw first-hand food loss and spoilage. In a quote taken from the Winnipeg Free Press January 11, 2019 in an interview with Jayas, "My grandfather certainly is the one I would give full credit for instilling in me the value of hard work," Jayas said. "There were many issues which I thought could be solved by applying engineering to agriculture," he recalled. "I said something could be done, but at that time I was not sure I would become a professor working in that area."

In 1980, Jayas came to Canada where he completed his master’s degree in agricultural engineering at the University of Manitoba, and then went to Saskatoon, where he finished his PhD at the University of Saskatchewan.  He later returned to the U of M as an assistant professor in the agricultural engineering department. While not necessarily anticipating to be an instrumental part in the academic pursuits of hundreds of students and researchers in Manitoba and Canada, Jayas said he has always been motivated to teach and to help others understand, explore, and solve complex problems.

Dr. Jayas has received awards from several organizations in recognition of his research and professional contributions and most recently was appointed to the Order of Canada in November of 2018.  Dr. Jayas serves on the boards or committees of many organizations.  In addition to his roles as Vice-President at the University of Manitoba and Interim President of NSERC (until 2019), Jayas continues to be an active member on various boards as a member and adviser, some of which include: ArcticNet, Cancer Care Manitoba Projects Grants and Awards Committee, Churchill Marine Observatory (CMO), Composite Innovation Centre, Centre for Innovative Sensing of Structures (SIMTReC), Genome Prairie, GlycoNet, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, National Coordinating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID), North Forge Technology Exchange, NSERC Council, Oceans Research in Canada Alliance Council, Research Manitoba, Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology, RITHIM Steering Committee, and TRIUMF.  He has served as the President of the Agriculture Institute of Canada, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (Engineers and Geoscientists Manitoba), Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Canadian Society for Bioengineering, Engineers Canada, and Manitoba Institute of Agrologists. He currently chairs the board of directors of RESOLVE, a prairie research network on family violence; TRIUMF and the Smartpark Advisory Committee.