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Canada: Laurier opens new rooftop research greenhouse as part of Open Doors 2015 event

Wilfrid Laurier University will open a new greenhouse for leading-edge research and student training on the top floor of its Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science at 65 Lodge Street on the university’s Waterloo campus.

Members of the public will be invited to tour the new greenhouse at the Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science as one of the Open Doors Waterloo Region sites Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours of this award-winning facility, which is home to the Laurier-Government of Northwest Territories Partnership, will highlight its light-filled spaces; the new greenhouse; laboratories that replicate arctic climate conditions; energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable design; and the art installation “Water Movements/Multiple States,” which emphasizes the shifting form of water.

An opening event for the greenhouse will also be held on Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. with remarks from Joan Norris, dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral studies, Scott Ramsay, chair of the Department of Biology, and Deborah MacLatchy, vice-president: academic and provost and acting vice-president: research.

“We are very pleased to open this new research facility at Laurier,” said MacLatchy. “It will significantly enhance opportunities at Laurier for botanical research, as well as to train graduate and undergraduate students in research ranging from understanding photosynthesis at the molecular level to supporting novel agricultural initiatives in Ontario.”

Laurier’s plant biologists will use the large, modern facility to study topics ranging from seed propagation to large environmental-response experiments. The greenhouse will provide plant growth space, including environmental control systems for supporting plant biology research as well as extensive facilities for graduate student work and methods training. Researchers will also be able to use resources inside the Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science to complement their work, fostering greater collaboration between researchers from diverse disciplines.

Matt Smith, associate biology professor, will be using the greenhouse to study mechanisms of protein import into chloroplasts in several plant model systems.

“The greenhouse is an asset to the research programs of all the plant biologists in the department,” said Smith. “It opens up a wide range of possibilities that weren’t available to us before now that we’re all very excited about. It’s a great facility.”

Frédérique Guinel, biology professor, and Allison McDonald, associate biology professor, are actively training students in the new space. James Jones and Hillary Péon, both students in integrative biology master’s programs, are just two of the students working in the new space.

“It’s such a great space to learn hands-on techniques,” said Péon. “I’m thrilled to be learning new experimental skills in such a well-equipped new space,” said Jones.

The greenhouse and the Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science is one of 40 participating sites in the Open Doors Waterloo Region event September 19. For more information about Open Doors Waterloo Region and the sites taking part in the self-directed tours, visit

“We hope the public will take advantage of the opportunity to tour the facility as part of Open Doors Waterloo Region,” said MacLatchy. “We welcome public involvement in our research endeavors at Laurier.”

Infrastructure funding for the greenhouse was provided by Wilfrid Laurier University’s Board of Governors, the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the Office of Research Services. Construction of the state-of-the-science facility was completed by JGS Limited earlier this year.

Laurier’s original greenhouse was located behind the St. Michael’s elementary school site, which is now home to Lazaridis Hall. The original greenhouse has since been relocated to the Northdale Community Garden for community use.

For more information, visit

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