People of Poultry: Dr. Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse

Two beloved champions of Alberta agriculture, science, education, and the environment were recently lost during a backcountry hiking trip that ended in tragedy on September 29, 2023. Dr. Doug Inglis, his lifetime partner Jenny Gusse and their beloved dog Tris suffered a fatal encounter with a grizzly bear in Banff National Park backcountry near the mountain headwaters of the Red Deer River. Extremely competent, experienced and safety conscious in the outdoors, the attack occurred in an area that the couple loved, knew well, and hiked frequently. 

Born in Alberta, they both worked at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, AB, Doug as Principal Research Scientist and Jenny as the lead Research Technician in his lab.

“They were an exceptional couple,” said Colin Inglis, uncle to Doug and longtime friend of the couple. 

Gusse and Inglis worked and played together, teaching, inspiring legions of students and sharing their love of the outdoors. They hiked, paddled, and gardened while leaving the smallest possible environmental footprint.

Doug and Jenny working their way through a rapid.
Waterfound and Fond du Lac rivers, Saskatchewan 2006.

Doug and Jenny were beloved by both students and colleagues, sharing a dedicated commitment to scientific excellence in research and education. They were a formidable scientific team, working in areas such as biological grasshopper control and microbiology to bacterial-caused ailments in many livestock species, as well as human diseases. Inglis produced over 200 scientific papers and manuscripts. His research had a direct impact on the poultry industry as well, illustrated in this quote from Remembering Dr. Doug Inglis: A Tribute to a Life Well -Lived by Doug’s friend and colleague, Dr. Wade Abbott. 

“Doug’s move into glycoscience came later in his career. It was an exciting time as we connected over topics that considered selective advantages for microbes that can digest rare carbohydrates and the protective role of sugars that line the digestive tract. Around 2013, Doug charted a new course for our organization, developing a containment facility and new technologies to improve bird health and performance. Combining advanced techniques and animal models he brought a modern view and fresh solutions to historical problems facing Canadian poultry producers. Much of this work has been published; however, as it often seems with successful scientists in the twilight of their careers, we are left wondering what he would have discovered if he had a little more time.”

Jenny was described by a former student as “the best molecular biologist they had ever encountered. Jenny provided valuable hands-on training in all aspects of lab technique and equipment operation, while Doug concentrated on other aspects of student training, ensuring that their students were well versed in experimental design, statistical analysis, manuscript preparation and well counseled in career prospects.” (From In Celebration of Dr. Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse U of Lethbridge Faculty Association.) 

Many of their students are now working as scientists and agriculture professionals, a legacy that will continue to impact Canadian agriculture for decades to come. 

When news of the tragedy became public, the Inglis family received messages from across the country and as far as Mississippi. At the couple’s memorial service in Lethbridge, colleagues and former students attended from all across Canada. 

Maximo Lange and his wife Danisa (Dani) worked very closely with Doug and Jenny and their story illustrates the kindness, generosity, and faith in humanity that they expressed to so many. 

Both veterinarians from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Maximo was hired by Doug as a research student seven years ago to complete a masters in his lab, with wife Dani arriving two months later.  

“I arrived in January to the coldest day that I have ever experienced in my entire life,” recalled Lange. “It is hard to move around Lethbridge without a car (which I didn’t have) and the first day I met Doug, he lent me his old and loved Subaru for two weeks without hesitating for a second. I was very impressed by this gesture.”

When Dani arrived in March, she did not have a job, was not yet fluent in English and felt lost and lonely. Doug offered her an arrangement where she could work in his lab for six months, improve her English and then take an English exam to allow her to be accepted into the U of A and complete her master’s with him. This act of faith and generosity was a pivotal moment in the couple’s lives. 

“Doug had no reason to take a gamble on another student that did not know much English and yet he did,” said Lange. “Fortunately, Dani excelled beyond any expectation in his lab. He never doubted her for a second and he always put his best faith in his people.”

The couple completed their master’s degrees and were hired to work in the lab as biologist (Dani) and animal technician (Maximo), working closely with Doug and Jenny. 

“Both Doug and Jenny were very generous with us,” said Lange. “They are the reason why today we are proud citizens of Canada with permanent jobs, a house, and a happy life. We really owe them everything that we are, our love for the backcountry, the garden in our backyard, our jobs, and our love for nature.” 

Beyond students and colleagues, the loss of Doug and Jenny has been devastating to their families. As they grieved, a desire emerged to try and find a meaningful way to remember their lives and the impact they had on so many. 

“The idea for a student endowment came from Doug’s sister Colleen, who asked, ‘How can we make something good come out of something really bad?”’ said Colin. “They were committed to training new scientists – how do we keep that legacy going?”

Inspired by that question, The Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse Memorial Fund was launched.  

As Doug worked primarily with graduate students and Jenny with undergraduates, the family hopes to raise enough money to create a scholarship in both areas, in each of their names. The funds will create an endowment that can grow and support student awards. Fundraising for the endowment is just getting off the ground. The goal is to raise $250,000 and when contributions reach $25,000, donations will be matched 1:1. 

What better way to celebrate and honour this remarkable couple who gave so much to agriculture, students, colleagues, family, and the world around them? The Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse Memorial Fund will continue their legacy, sharing gifts and knowledge and building a better world through the students of tomorrow. 

To learn more about the lives and accomplishments of Dr. Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse and contribute to the endowment, please click here. All donations are greatly appreciated.

Donations by cheque can be sent to:    

University of Lethbridge    
Office of External Relations – Philanthropy Department    
4401 University Drive   
Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4   
Please ensure your cheque is made out to the University of Lethbridge and reference the Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse Memorial Fund on your cheque or within your correspondences.

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