Jo-Anne was born and raised on a mixed dairy farm in southeastern Saskatchewan, completed a degree in Agriculture and worked in research after leaving the family farm. In 2020, she defended her thesis in COVID-times style graduating with a master’s degree in Public Policy (MPP) from the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan. Her thesis asked the questions, what farm-level problems do smart technologies solve, and how does public policy enable or slow innovation? The research approach was a case study of autonomous farm equipment suited for broad acre smart farming.
Jo-Anne collected data from interviews with entrepreneurs creating field robots as a solution to agriculture labour problems and combined this with quantitative data, a review of autonomous vehicle policies and reports of farm-level perceptions of digital technologies and robotic systems. While in grad studies, she was part of the NSERC-ITraP (Integrated Training Program in Infectious Disease, Food Safety and Public Policy) program that aimed to develop student’s skills in problem-solving when faced with infectious disease situations. The ITraP experience opened up a new way of interdisciplinary thinking and recently, Jo-Anne is putting these skills to use by supporting qualitative research on a Genome Canada project involving infectious disease, metagenomics opportunities and the Canadian beef cattle industry.
Prior to grad studies, she worked as a professional plant breeder developing specialty oil and meal canola, and condiment mustard varieties. During this time, Jo-Anne traveled to Chile, England, and Italy, where she discovered the local farmers grew San Marzano tomatoes and now plants this tasty variety on her small farm east of Saskatoon. When not gardening or working for the Saskatchewan forage seed growers, Jo-Anne and her family enjoy sailing and skiing.