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Partner blog feature: The Canadian Prairies, a hub of digital agriculture innovation

David Bressler, Associate Dean of Research CNAS, ALES Prof. at U of A, and Bioenterprise SIAC Advisor, pieces together energy, food and agriculture, forestry, jet fuel, and waste

By Tabitha Caswell for Bioenterprise

At first glance, Dr. David Bressler’s work might appear disconnected and chaotic, like a box of 10,000 jigsaw pieces dumped in a heap on the floor. But in the world of biorefining and sustainable energy, this puzzle aficionado has a knack for making complex brainteasers seem like child’s play.

Games aside, his motivation is steadfast and earnest, with outcomes focused on designing a circular economy supported by sustainable processes for handling waste, preventing it from being burned or thrown into landfills, and creating value for all players on every team involved, from start to finish.

On his mission to solve major environmental issues, this savvy interdisciplinarian fits together the pieces by way of both discovery and applied sciences. Here, as a revered member of the Science and Innovation Advisory Committee (SIAC) with Bioenterprise, Dr. Bressler graciously shares insight from his world where academia, industry, and government collide.

Left Turn at Edmonton

David’s story begins at the crossroads of energy and agriculture, in the heart of northern Alberta, home of the Athabasca Oil Sands and the epicenter of Canada’s beef industry, known for its rich history of oil and farming.

Leaving his hometown of Grande Prairie for Edmonton, David’s sights were set on pre-med, but the tether tying him to his roots proved strong, pulling him off that path and in the direction of industrial microbiology. Studying at the University of Alberta (U of A), he earned an Honors Bachelor of Science Degree in Cell Biology, followed by a PhD in Microbiology and Biotechnology.

During his two years as Research Manager at U of A, David taught Chemical and Materials Engineering while working in tandem with Syncrude Research, then landed as Associate Dean of Research with the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences (ALES) from 2019 to 2022. Currently he’s fulfilling a three year term as Associate Dean, STEM Research for the College of Natural and Applied Sciences (CNAS) at the U of A.

Through his role in the Biorefining Conversions and Fermentation Laboratory (Bressler Lab), David strikes a balance, building programs that enable his team to navigate various disciplines, tackle a variety of industrial challenges, chase curiosities, and foster learning opportunities and growth for all.

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