Thompson Rivers University

Unravelling the mysteries of beer

  Posted on: June 22, 2015

J Van Hamme at Red Collar

Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme, left, is working with Red Collar Brewing owner David Beardsell to sequence the genomes of a variety of yeast strains in order to create unique beer recipes.

Helping a local U-Brew operation save money by reducing the cost of brewing supplies, and working with a local microbrewery to sequence the genomes of unique yeast strains are just two ways Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme is using his microbiology research lab to create solutions for the challenges faced by local business owners.

In May, Van Hamme was awarded two Engage Grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). The grants, valued at $25,000 each, allow him to spend six months focused on finding solutions for two local businesses — B.A. Brewmaster and Red Collar Brewing Co. The bulk of the funding goes to hiring research assistants — Robyn McArthur and Corrie Belanger — who will spend their summer and part of the fall working in Van Hamme’s lab. Both students were also awarded NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Assistantships (USRA). A third student, recent graduate Katiana Pyper, was awarded an NSERC Industrial USRA, and will contribute to the research while working on site at B.A. Brewmaster.

Research Discoveries: Converting a toxic chemical into a non-toxic product

Van Hamme — who holds an NSERC Discovery Grant for his research into converting toxic fluorinated compounds into non-toxic products — has long been interested in brewing microbiology, and offers a popular fourth-year course on the subject. With a background in applied research and development, he was intrigued by the challenges faced by these two business owners, and was excited to use his experience in genomics to develop solutions.

“People are interested in genomics these days and it’s important to be flexible and to develop skills that are of value to the community.”

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Interested in partnering with a TRU researcher?
Contact Dr. Lincoln Smith, Director of Research Partnerships and Enterprise Creation