Alberto Hardt, Research Associate, Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre (HESIC), lives his life by this mantra – just go for it.
A unique experience in his life led him to ask himself, “Why wait to do the things you want?”
Originally from Brazil, Alberto always had a desire to live abroad.
“It was a perfect storm of things that made our decision to move easier. First was my age, neither too young nor too old, the other was that my daughter was 10 at the time, the prospects for her there were not as good as I think they are here, my wife had a rare opportunity to retiring earlier than normal, and lastly, Brazil doesn’t seem to be on track to become better in the short term, so we made the decision to move to Canada”, said Alberto.
His journey to working in horticultural research is a bit of a different one. Technically, at the bank he worked at in Brazil, he’s on a leave of absence, having worked there for almost 20 plus years.
He’s got a wide range of education under his belt, having gone to university for Agriculture, and again in Social Communications.
He started with the HESIC back in December 2022 as a Research Assistant, while he was studying to complete his diploma in Niagara College’s Horticulture Technician program.
As a student, he quickly realized finding an on-campus job would be wise because you don’t have to commute and can fill up those awkward breaks in the day by working and getting job experience.
“I would say being able to work with Research & Innovation (R&I) stands out on my resume. When I started as a student, I liked how what I was learning in the classroom I was able to apply and practise in my role with R&I, and vice versa. It was totally related,” said Alberto.
Upon graduation in spring 2023, he was offered the position which he currently holds, as a Research Associate with HESIC. In this role, Alberto helps run the operational side of the research trials in the greenhouse, ensuring everything is going according to plan.
Over the past few months, Alberto has had leadership opportunities to help train students and orient them to the research trials. “I like to be on the same page with the students and help them feel confident in their understanding of the projects were working on, because the more you explain to them and the more data they have, the more they can collaborate with their ideas,” said Alberto.
The beauty about the HESIC team is that while Alberto and other associates and students work more on the hands-on side of the project, in team meetings, their manager and the research leads are always wanting to hear their ideas and are open to suggestions.
“I would say being able to work with Research & Innovation (R&I) stands out on my resume. When I started as a student, I liked how what I was learning in the classroom I was able to apply and practise in my role with R&I. It was totally related.”
– Alberto Hardt, Research Associate, Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre
“We’re getting opportunities to be leaders, share our ideas and be open with our communication which I like,” said Alberto.
He also said a great opportunity and perk of the job is when you get to attend industry events and conferences, like the Canadian Greenhouse Conference. “Getting to meet new people and talk about real industry projects, and greenhouse topics, is very valuable,” he said.
He’s also excited for the team as the new HESIC greenhouse construction is underway. “For HESIC, having our own space and control over the lighting, irrigation, shading and other parameters in the greenhouse is going to be so helpful for the success of research trials,” he said.
While Alberto’s contract with HESIC is up in April, he’s feeling optimistic about the future and is hoping to find a role in the greenhouse industry in St. Catharines.
“For myself and my family, we really enjoy doing so many different things here in the Niagara region. From visiting Niagara Falls, enjoying a coffee in Niagara-on-the-Lake, beaches in St. Catharines, hiking the escarpment, to biking the Welland Canal. We enjoy working and living in a place where it feels like we’re in constant vacation time because it’s so beautiful here,” he said.
If you have an innovation challenge that needs a solution, visit the Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre, or if you have a project idea to share, contact David DiPietro, Manager, Business Development, at [email protected].