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Fostering growth

Dr. David Crowe has funded a scholarship that grows from his love of farming. First granted in 2018, over the 10-year life of the scholarship, $25,000 is awarded each year to one agriculture graduate student.

Dr. Davide Crowe (XFRF’42) has spent close to a century living, working and studying farming. Through the scholarship he has funded, his influence on farming will stretch well into the future.

The seeds of giving were sown early in Dr. Crowe, taking root when he was an agriculture student on scholarship and growing even deeper in his retirement.

Now 97, he established the Dr. A. David Crowe Graduate Scholarship in 2017. It’s the largest and most prestigious scholarship at the Faculty of Agriculture. PhD student Wasitha Thilakarnathna from Sri Lanka has received the renewable scholarship three times.

“Receiving this scholarship was a major milestone of my academic life which enabled me to start PhD studies with confidence,” says Thilakarnathna.

Dr. Crowe was raised on a farm in Berwick, N.S. in the 1920s and ’30s and enrolled at the Nova Scotia Agriculture College in 1942. He finished his course, enlisted in the navy as a pilot and was deployed to Europe just as the war ended. After returning to Canada, he completed a further two years of study at the college before going on to graduate studies at Macdonald College (now part of McGill University) and Cornell University.

His area of specialty was plant physiology and Dr. Crowe worked as a pomologist—a botanist studying fruit and its cultivation—at the Kentville Research Centre (now called the Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre).

One of his proudest accomplishments was standardizing apple bins, replacing apple boxes as a superior way to store the fruit. Another was the 14 years he spent going farm-to-farm doing extension work, translating science into practical improvements for fruit growers. His legacy now also includes the scholarship in his name. First granted in 2018, over the 10-year life of the scholarship $25,000 is awarded each year to one agriculture graduate student who intends to live and work in Atlantic Canada. “When putting that kind of money out, you want to keep it at home,” says Dr. Crowe.

Thilakarnathna says it’s a “great honour” to have received the scholarship. His research involves extracting proanthocyanidin from grape seeds to see how it affects the liver of mice, with the goal of eventually applying his research findings to the prevention of liver cancer.

The two men met in 2018 and Thilakarnathna still shares his research reports with Dr. Crowe.