Rene Van Acker

Rene VanAcker



519-824-4120 x52285


B.Sc. University of Guelph;
M.Sc. University of Guelph;
PhD. University of Reading (UK)



102 JHNH

Rene Van Acker is Professor and Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC). Prior to his appointment as Dean, Rene was Associate Dean External of OAC and previously chair of the department of Plant Agriculture. Prior to his appointments at Guelph, Rene was a professor at the University of Manitoba. As Dean, Rene has developed a strong framework and vision for the college through Our Shared Priorities, OAC’s new strategic plan and the OAC Space Visioning Plan, OAC’s first infrastructure master plan in more than 40 years. 

Rene has a track record of creating new platforms for research, education and outreach; he co-founded the Food Institute now the Arrell Food Institute, and the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming. He has also help to lead the development of the new Guelph Turfgrass Institute, the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre, the Guelph Food Innovation Centre, The Animal Biosciences Abattoir and Meat Lab, the new Honey Bee Research Centre, renovations to the Arboretum’s Hilton Centre, the new and expanded Student Federation OAC Suite in Johnston Hall, Dairy@Guelph and Soils@Guelph. Rene also fundraised for and facilitated the establishment of over 20 externally funded chairs and professorships for OAC. He has extensive experience in fundraising and has helped to fundraise over $90M to-date for OAC.

As Dean, Rene has overseen the creation and launch of new academic programs for OAC, including the Bachelors of Bioresource Management Food Industry Management program which at the time of its launch was the first new OAC undergraduate program in more than 13 years. And most recently the Bachelors of Indigenous Environmental Science and Practice, a first of its kind in Canada. At the graduate level new programs include two course-based masters programs, Food Safety and Quality Assurance and Dairy Technology and Management. He has also overseen the development and execution of OAC’s first experiential learning strategy.

Rene is responsible for the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph and in 2020 he worked to transition the campus to new leadership focused on fiscal sustainability through enrolment growth and new program development to meet emerging and growing needs for diploma and micro-credential education in the agri-food sector.

Enrolment growth is a key priority across OAC and in 2010 Rene launched Planning For Tomorrow, a liaison and recruitment initiative for agri-food programs based on first ever market demand reports commissioned in 2011 and 2017 showing demand for OAC graduates exceeding supply by 4:1 and underpinning an aggressive, donor funded student recruitment program which has resulted in almost 50% growth in OAC’s undergraduate student population.

Across the University, Rene serves or has served on the University Budget Committee, The SMA 3 Committee, The Micro-credentials Committee and the University Integrated Financial and Budget Committee. He also serves on the Senate Board of Undergraduate Studies Committee. Externally, Rene is a board member of the Rural Ontario Institute and past board member of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists. He is currently president elect for the Deans Council, Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Medicine.  

Rene remains an active faculty member and has published over 130 peer-reviewed works to-date with over 300 other non-peer reviewed contributions. He continues to supervise graduate students and he co-teaches a capstone course for OAC undergraduate students.

Rene holds BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Guelph and a PhD from the University of Reading in the UK.


AGR*4600 Agriculture and Food Issues Problem Solving

Relevant Links:

Selected Publications:

Li, Z., R. Van Acker, N. Soltani and P.H. Sikkema. (2017). Managing weeds with herbicides in white beans: a review. Canadian Journal of Plant ScienceDOI: 10.1139/CJPS-2017-0030.

Murphy, G.P., C.J. Swanton, R.C. Van Acker, and S.A. Dudley. (2017). Lessons from kin recognition in wild plants for crop sustainability. Journal of Ecology. (in press).

Murphy, G.P., R. Van Acker, I. Rajcan, and C.J. Swanton. (2017). Identity recognition in response  to a gradient of genetic relatedness in commercial soybean. Royal Society Open Science. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160879.

Li, Z., R. Van Acker, N. Soltani and P.H. Sikkema. (2017). Direct versus indirect herbicide effects: The example of preplant incorporated halosulfuron. American Journal of Plant Sciences. 8: 645-650.

Kong. Y., D. Llewellyn, K. Schiestel, M. Gay Scroggins, D. Lubitz, M.R. McDonald, R. Van Acker, R. Martin, E. Elford and Y. Zheng. (2017). High Tunnels Can Promote Growth, Yield, and Fruit Quality of Organic Bitter Melons (Momordica charantia) in Regions with Cool and Short Growing Seasons. HortScience. 52: 65-71.

Dias, G.M., N.W. Ayer, S. Khosla, R. Van Acker, S.B. Young, S. Whitney, and P. Hendricks. (2017). Life cycle perspectives on the sustainability of Ontario greenhouse tomato production: benchmarking and improvement opportunities. Journal of Cleaner Production. 140: 831-839.

Li, Z., K.C. Kessler, M. Rodrigues Alves de Figueiredo, S.J. Nissen, T.A. Gaines, R. Van Acker, J.C. Hall, D.E. Robinson, N. Soltani and P.H. Sikkema. (2016). Halosulfuron absorption, Translocation, and metabolism in white and adzuki bean. Weed Science. 64: 705-711.

Wartman, P., K. Dunfield, K. Khosla, C. Loucks, R.C. Martin and R.C. Van Acker. (2016). The establishment of apple orchards as temperate forest garden systems and their impact on indigenous bacterial and fungal population abundance in Southern Ontario, Canada. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 30. DOI: 10.1017/S1742170516000120.

Moussavi, A., S.Z.H. Cici, C. Loucks and R.C. Van Acker. (2016). Establishing field stands of  Russian dandelion (Taraxacum Kok-saghyz) from seed in southern Ontario, Canada. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 96: 887-894.

Chakraborty, S., S.Z.H. Cici, J. Todd, C. Loucks and R.C. Van Acker. (2016). Exploring the weed biology of two potentially novel oilseed crops: Euphorbia lagascae and Centrapalus pauciflorus. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 96: 677-688.

Li, Z., R. Van Acker, D.E. Robinson, and P.H. Sikkema. (2016). Halosulfuron tankmixes applied preplant incorporated for weed control in white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 96: 81-88.

White, S.N., N.S. Boyd and R.C. Van Acker. (2016). Evaluation of aminocyclopyrachlor applied alone and in combination with registered herbicides for crop tolerance and weed control in wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.). Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 96: 11-16.

Charlebois, S. and R. Van Acker. (2016). In the belly of the “beast”: A look at Monsanto’s public engagement awakening. Public Relations Review. 42: 223-225.

Li, Z., R. Van Acker, D.E. Robinson and P.H. Sikkema. (2016). Halosulfuron Tankmixes Applied PRE in White Bean. Weed Technology. 30: 57-66.

Fraser, E., A. Legwegoh, K. Krishna, M. CoDyre, G. Dias, S. Hazen, R. Johnson, R. Martin, L. Ohberg, S. Sethuratnam, L. Sneyd, J. Smithers, R. Van Acker, J. Vansteenkiste, H. Wittman, R. Yada. (2016). Biotechnology or organic? Extensive or intensive? Global or local? A critical review of potential pathways to resolve the global food crisis. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 48: 78-87.

Bullied, W.J., P.R. Bullock and R.C. Van Acker. (2011). Modeling the soil-water retention characteristic with pedotransfer functions for shallow seedling recruitment. Soil Science. 176: 57-72.

Bagavathiannan, M.V., R.H. Gulden and R.C. Van Acker. (2010). Occurrence of feral alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. ) populations along roadside habitats in southern Manitoba, Canada and their role in intraspecific novel trait movement. Transgenic Research. 19. DOI: 10.1007/s11248-010-9425-2.

Bagavathiannan, M.V., A. Spok and R.C. Van Acker. (2010). Commercialization of Perennial GE crops: Looming Challenges for Regulatory Frameworks. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. 23. DOI: 10.1007/s10806-010-9257-3.

Bagavathiannan, M.V., R.H. Gulden, G.S. Begg and R.C. Van Acker. (2010). The demography of feral alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) populations occurring in roadside habitats in Southern Manitoba, Canada: implications for novel trait confinement. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 17. DOI: 10.1007/s11356-010-0330-2.

Bagavathiannan, M.V., B. Julier, P. Barre, R.H. Gulden and R.C. Van Acker. (2010). Genetic diversity of feral alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) populations occurring in Manitoba, Canada and comparison with alfalfa cultivars: an analysis using SSR markers and phenotypic traits. Euphytica. 171: 419-432.

Willenborg, C.J., A.L. Brûlé-Babel and R.C. Van Acker. (2010). Identification of a hybridization window that facilitates sizable reductions of pollen-mediated gene flow in spring wheat. Transgenic Research. 19: 449-460.