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We first wrote about our budding research partnership with the University of Alberta in 2019. We're very happy it's blossomed into something further with a PhD student receiving a MITACS award in the fall of 2022 to research Kaslo Sourdough's sourdough bacterial culture further. Our newsletter also included a brief update on Silvio's research trip to Edmonton to visit the lab in March last year.

Initially, this investigative research started because Silvio made several observations about Kaslo Sourdough's sourdough culture. And that led to several questions that we felt were important to answer. We're now approaching the end of the fellowship and may have some more results to share from that work soon!


Vi hard at work in the University of Alberta lab.
Vi hard at work in the University of Alberta lab, March 2023.

What's a MITACS Award?

A partner organization (Kaslo Sourdough) and academic researchers (PhD Candidate Vi Pham and her supervisor Dr. Michael Gaenzle) put together a research proposal. The research partners submit the proposal through a MITACS Advisor. The proposal was approved, so then Kaslo Sourdough and the federal government put together funding to support Vi's project. There are a few different kinds of MITACS awards in Canada.

In our case, Vi Pham was awarded a MITACS Accelerate Fellowship, which is only open to master's and PhD students.

For Kaslo Sourdough, the MITACS Accelerate Fellowship is a great way for more research to take place. And at the same time, a PhD student gets hands on experience developing skills that have a practical application. So it's a win win for all involved.

The broader MITACS program is unique to Canada. It's goal is to support innovation in Canada through partnerships that can deliver results.

MITACS website landing page
Overview of the MITACS program

What questions were we asking?

Vi was looking into four main things with her research project:

  1. Looking at the long term stability of Kaslo Sourdough's bacterial culture and identifying specific bacteria that make it up
  2. Identifying some of the fermentation conditions that are important for best results of the fermentation
  3. Identifying the impact of those fermentation conditions to ensure the highest  quality of the sourdough pasta, and
  4. Possibly identify new lactic acid bacteria species that are in Kaslo Sourdough's sourdough culture

We'll have more to say on these research components in the near future. We've already been very pleased with the initial results. There's been a lot of interesting data coming from Vi's work!

Dr. Michael Gaenzle in front of the poster related to Vi's research.
Dr. Michael Gaenzle standing in front of Vi's research poster for a conference.

Bringing the University to Kaslo

We're very excited to have Vi come and visit us in Kaslo in the next few months! Probably when there is less snow... She'll get to have a closer look at what our sourdough pasta production is. And we'll get to have more in depth discussions about her work and its application for Kaslo Sourdough. And of course, we'll talk about "What next?"

We'll share a post with you about her visit when it comes together, and a more general update about our research partnership with the University of Alberta.

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