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Former Afghani Refugee Among Inaugural Arrell Food Institute Scholars at U of G

It is a long and complicated path from evading Taliban threats in Afghanistan to transforming Canada’s beef industry, but that’s the route being traced by a former refugee named as one of the first Arrell Food Institute scholars at the University of Guelph.

Nasrin Husseini is among the inaugural group of five U of G graduate students who will receive the new scholarships, worth $50,000 per year. Husseini willl work with Ontario Veterinary College professor Bonnie Mallard to adapt the High Immune Response (HIR) technology for use in Canadian beef feedlots to combat economically important ailments such as bovine respiratory disease.

This past March, the Arrell Family Foundation announced a $20-million donation to the University of Guelph for new research chairs and scholarships, international food innovation awards and a prestigious annual conference.

Each of the inaugural scholars from Sri Lanka, Russia, Afghanistan and Canada aims to help transform the global food industry.

“The generosity of the Arrell Family Foundation has given U of G the ability to recruit an unbelievably high calibre of students,” says Evan Fraser, director of the institute.

“Not only do these students’ studies cover a range of fields, and not only are they academically exceptional, but they have all had significant leadership roles in communities beyond academia.”

This year’s scholars, including Katya Kudashkina, Kathleen Johnson, Amberley Ruetz and Karthika Sriskantharajah, will study distinct fields from data science to nutrition.

Husseini was a child when she moved with her family to Iran to escape the ongoing war in Afghanistan. As a refugee, she was banned by the Iranian government from attending university. Only when the family returned to Afghanistan could she attend post-secondary education.

Her father pushed her to excel at her chosen studies.

“Having a man like my dad in my life when all men in my country were against education was just like winning the lottery,” she says.

“I got into veterinary school in Afghanistan when it was a huge deal for a girl to be a veterinarian. Every day, people would tell me to switch to another field, a field more proper for women, but I was not the type to give up.”

Read the entire article on the University of Guelph website