Haley Wolgien

3MT 2024 Finalist Haley Wolgien

Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, Natural + Applied Sciences

Thesis: Feeding the Farm with Fish? Try an Alternative Dish!

Introduce yourself:

I am Haley, a second-year MSc. student in Bioresource Technology. I have a passion for learning and hold both a technical diploma in chemical technology and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biochemistry. I have lived in Alberta my whole life and outside of research I enjoy reading, gardening, playing the oboe, and spending time with my family.

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

My research uses fermentation of bacteria to make an alternative protein for animal feed. This product is called single cell protein, as it comes from single-celled bacteria that have a high protein content. The general process involves liquid fermentation to grow the cells, filtration to separate the cells from the liquid, and drying to obtain a final product that can be added to animal feed. My research focus is on developing the filtration and drying processes and ensuring integrity of the final product. Alongside our industry partner, Cvictus, the goal of this project is to produce single cell protein on a commercial scale.

How does presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help you to explain your research to the public?

The 3MT has challenged me to really distill the essence of my research and look at it from a broader perspective. It has helped me more deeply understand the impact and importance of my work and communicate it in ways that are accessible to everyone. Now my mom understands what I do all day!

What inspires you to do research?

First, I want to make a difference in the world. Second, I love puzzles and problem solving! Research questions have so many interconnected components, and with them come challenges to confront and problems to solve. I love untangling these complex systems to find out what’s really going on and develop creative ways to solve the problems and answer my many, many questions.

What are three key words important to your 3MT?

Single cell protein, fermentation, animal feed.

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities?

Conventional protein supplements for animal feed come from soy and fish, but these industries are becoming overtaxed by the increasing world population and high demand for meat, and this increased production is contributing to deforestation and overfishing. By providing an alternative protein source for animal feed, we can increase the amount of soy and fish products available for human consumption and enable reforestation and ocean replenishment activities. It is in this way we can combat climate change, food scarcity, and the environmental impact of eating meat.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

I want my research to help improve our world, so I dedicate my research to my kids, because they are the ones that have to live in the world we make for them.

Haley Wolgien – Feeding the Farm with Fish? Try an Alternative Dish!

Watch Haley's Three Minute Thesis