Noura Ziadi, a woman with a passion for research and people

Noura Ziadi

Readers of 5 farming publications recognized Noura Ziadi as one of 2021’s 7 most influential women in Canadian agriculture for her innovation and leadership. This nomination did not come about by accident. As a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and former president of the Canadian Society of Soil Science, Noura has demonstrated exceptional human qualities while pursuing her scientific work for nearly 30 years.

A passion for research

Originally from Tunisia, Noura discovered her passion for research when she came to Quebec City in 1992 to pursue a master’s degree at the Université Laval in collaboration with AAFC.

Her dedication paid off, allowing her to obtain an excellence scholarship from the Fondation Université Laval to complete her doctoral studies—and Canada became her new home.

Leading with great care

Noura’s career took a new turn when she was entrusted with the leadership of a large international study on phosphorus cycling in the soils of agro-ecosystems. From 2007 to 2016, she led 3 research projects involving 17 researchers from 5 Canadian provinces and four other countries. At the time, she managed a research budget of over $2 million.

Noura’s determination and the quality of her work have been noticed by her peers. In addition, her extremely rigorous and meticulous management of financial resources has allowed her to use public funds as efficiently as possible.

The study conducted at 45 experimental sites in Canada, France, Finland, Switzerland and China generated fundamental and practical knowledge on phosphorus cycling. It also led to the creation of a large national and international database on the role, behaviour and importance of phosphorus in agricultural soils to better guide their fertilization.

Developing great collaborations

Noura first met Barbara Cade-Menun, a new research scientist at AAFC in Saskatchewan, when she joined the international phosphorus project. This was the beginning of a fruitful collaboration that has resulted in many research projects.

Over the years, Barbara has gained an appreciation for her colleague’s wonderful qualities, and that is why she nominated Noura as an influential woman in Canadian agriculture.

“I admire Noura’s commitment, both to her work at AAFC and in other roles, like president of the Canadian Society of Soil Science, said Barbara. She has done innovative work and led large teams of scientists on major projects. She has demonstrated strong leadership in her work as a research scientist and elsewhere.”

Training the next generation of scientists with sensitivity

To make a difference in agriculture, you also have to know how to pass the torch. Noura understands how to support young researchers in their learning process. She has guided and supervised over 40 students in their postdoctoral, doctoral and master’s theses.

Noura has a sensitive and very humane way of working with young people. She takes the time to learn about their interests and scientific questions, while sharing her great passion for research. Their success really matters to her!

“I have always been keen to guide young researchers in their new roles, especially in scientific writing and preparing grant applications, said Noura. I am very proud to support the next generation in Canada and abroad.”

Both Noura and Barbara have been recognized as influential women in Canadian agriculture. Their work, along with that of many other researchers, has provided Canadian producers with a gold mine of knowledge, innovation and discovery to help them feed the country.

Learn more about the Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture program or get inspired by other Canadian scientists through Women in Science.

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