Brock University’s flagship research institute, the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), has appointed two new members to its team of scientists.
After a comprehensive global search for the top candidates, CCOVI Director Dr. Debbie Inglis is pleased to announce Dr. Malkie Spodek will join the Institute as Scientist in Entomology and Dr. Jennifer Kelly will take on the role of Scientist in Oenology effective May 1, 2023.
Spodek brings a wealth of knowledge in the field of plant protection and entomology. She is a Hemipteran specialist, which includes scale insects, psyllids, whiteflies, aphids, cicadas and leafhoppers, many of which are important agricultural pests. Prior to joining CCOVI, she spent five years as a research entomologist, where she focused on finding sustainable pest management solutions for the agricultural needs of the Arava region in Israel. She has also previously worked in biosecurity and helped to develop import regulations with risk assessments for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Israel.
In addition to her extensive background in identifying insects that are inadvertently imported with agriculture produce, Spodek brings hands-on experience working directly with farmers to address their pest challenges. She was also involved in several biocontrol projects, including using birds to manage insect pests, and has discovered and described several insect species new to science.
Her experience in running workshops and lecturing on agriculture topics such as plant pests, plant diseases and biological pest control will be invaluable to the Institute from an outreach perspective.
Spodek received her BSc in Environmental Studies and postgraduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing from York University in Toronto. She went on to complete her MSc in Agricultural Sciences in Entomology and PhD in Agro-Ecology and Plant Health from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.
She currently serves as the Collection Manager of Hemiptera at The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History in Tel Aviv, Israel and is a member of the Entomological Societies of Canada, the U.S. and Israel.
“I am excited about this opportunity to work with grape growers in the wine region of Ontario and to apply my international experience to develop research programs that will build on current pest management practices,” said Spodek.
Kelly brings a unique perspective to the oenologist position, as she has worked in the grape and wine industry for over a decade in both cellars and an academic capacity, with the majority of this time focused on research that sought to improve the quality of Ontario wine and address specific industry challenges.
Before completing her PhD at Brock, Kelly worked in wineries across Niagara and the Barossa Valley in Australia, gaining practical, hands-on wine production experience. Her PhD and post-doctoral projects focused on research pertinent to the Niagara grape and wine industry, involving local yeast isolates, red wine production, botrytis and volatile acidity concerns and aromatic white wine production with a focus on fruity aromas associated with Sauvignon blanc.
Kelly’s focus on developing mitigation tools to assist industry with resilience to climate change and experience testing oenological methods on wine quality and consumer preferences through her PhD and post-doctoral research demonstrate her ability to tackle industry challenges in premium wine production.
Her research experience in basic wine analysis, advanced aroma chemistry, wine sensory evaluation and consumer behavior will also serve the Ontario and broader Canadian wine industry in addressing their needs.
She has also taught labs in wine chemistry, wine microbiology, wine sensory evaluation; run workshops in wine appreciation for non-specialists; and holds an advanced certificate in teaching and learning in higher education, which will be beneficial in CCOVI’s outreach efforts.
Kelly completed her Honours BSc in Psychology and BSc in Natural Sciences at Lakehead University and earned her PhD in Biotechnology in Oenology at Brock University. She also holds a Wine and Viticulture Technician Certificate from Niagara College.
She currently serves as Senior Lab Demonstrator and Professional Studies Instructor at CCOVI.
“I am honoured and excited to take on the role of CCOVI Scientist in Oenology,” said Kelly. “I truly believe in our grape and wine industry and am eager to address their needs through future research endeavours. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in CCOVI, the wider Brock community and industry partners once again and look forward to the 2023 harvest.”
Inglis is looking forward to Spodek and Kelly joining the CCOVI team in May.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Spodek and Dr. Kelly to our team at CCOVI. Their combined expertise in entomology and oenology will greatly enhance the Institute’s ability to address the challenges faced by the grape and wine industry in our region and beyond,” said Inglis. “We look forward to the contributions they will make to CCOVI’s leading edge research programs and outreach initiatives.”