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Dr. Gulshan Rai Saini

Science, South Asian, Science

Dr. Saini

Dr. Gulshan Rai Saini (1924-2007) was a soil scientist who worked for decades among the potato farmers of the Saint John River Valley, and was one of the earliest members of the mid-twentieth century wave of Indian immigrants to North America.

Dr. Saini was born in Punjab in 1924 and grew up in Nankana Sahib, which is now a part of Pakistan. He went on to study agricultural science, earning a Bachelors of Science and a Masters of Science from Punjab University. He was then accepted into a doctoral program at Ohio State University, arriving in the United States in 1957. After earning his doctorate in 1960, he returned to work as an assistant professor at Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, India.

Dr. Saini eventually became disillusioned with the political climate in Punjab and immigrated to Fredericton, New Brunswick, in October 1961. He researched soil and water issues for the Canadian Department of Agriculture for 23 years.

Not only was Dr. Saini concerned with his field of expertise, he was also concerned with broader social issues. He was a founder of the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, served on a national advisory board on multiculturalism for the Canadian government and was vice-president of the Professional Institute of Canada.

In the mid-1980s, Dr. Saini retired and moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, to be closer to his son. While there, he served on the Board of the Coalition for a Strong United Nations, was treasurer of the Third World Scholars Consortium, and was a longtime member of Friends of the Muddy River and Restore the Olmsted Waterway. He also served on a state advisory board on water management issues. He was founder of the Saini Foundation, and at the time of his death, he was developing a college scholarship program for girls from his ancestral village, Bohon, Punjab.

Dr. Saini left behind his wife, Dr. Veena Saini; a son, Vikas Saini, M.D.; and two granddaughters, Naima and Sahima.