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Agricultural Education and Collaboration: Addressing Emerging Needs of the Genomics Era/Revolution NC A&T State University Mulumebet Worku, Benjamin Gray, Donald McDowell

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Agricultural Education and Collaboration: Addressing Emerging Needs of the Genomics Era/Revolution

NC A&T State University

Mulumebet Worku, Benjamin Gray, Donald McDowell

School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, North Carolina A&T State University Greensboro NC 27411

Abstract

Multidisciplinary Training Program

Program Requirements

Efforts to address the emerging educational and technological needs of the genomics era/revolution have resulted in faculty embracing the need for collaboration across disciplines at North Carolina A&T State University. Through a collaborative endeavor of four departments in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences a concerted effort was undertaken to meet the demands for a diverse well trained workforce. The approach used consisted of several interrelated activities; an identification of areas of interest, the submission of grants for capacity building, increasing the instrumentation and infrastructure, establishment of a bioinformatics learning facility, course development, faculty and staff development, graduate fellowship support and development of a graduate level certificate program in agricultural biotechnology and genomics. These approaches, each in line with School and University wide initiatives in biotechnology, reflect state wide recognition for workforce training in biotechnology. A multidisciplinary collaboration between animal, plant microbial and social scientists, infused with IT training and an awareness of the land grant mission is being undertaken. Research experiences and supplemental training in collaboration with genomics and bioinformatics centers supplement on campus activities. These efforts will help advance the integration of new sciences, develop highly skilled personnel, provide support for biotech research, embellish undergraduate and graduate training, and expedite outreach efforts. The many advantages and positive impact of this unique collaborative efforts in agricultural biotechnology and genomics will be shared.

The School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at North Carolina A&T State University places a special emphasis on preparing students for careers in biotechnology. The National Needs Graduate Fellowship in Agricultural Biotechnology and Genomics is one opportunity available to underrepresented groups to enter this exciting and growing field. Recipients of this fellowship receive financial assistance as they work toward a certificate in biotechnology and a master’s degree from the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

Thanks to this fellowship program, four master’s students are now preparing for careers in biotechnology and genomics at N.C. A&T. They are:

Fellowships are provided for up to four students in the USDA National Needs Fellowship in Agricultural Biotechnology and Genomics. The program includes the following requirements:

Enrollment in one of the five master’s degree programs in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences [

15 credit hours in biotechnology and genomics

Completion of 25 hours of outreach activities in collaboration with the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T.

Completion of a thesis or project with a topic that is relevant to agricultural biotechnology or genomics.

Successful candidates will be awarded a graduate certificate in biotechnology

Derrick Coble of Greensboro, shown here analyzing RNA data on a computer, is using cutting-edge technology to make discoveries about the immune system of dairy cattle, as well as the DNA of a disease-causing organism in dairy cattle. Coble is pursuing a master’s degree in Animal Sciences. Recipients of the National Needs Graduate Fellowship in Agricultural Biotechnology and Genomics receive a broad, extensive education about key developments in biotechnology and genomics.

Thesis Title: Effect of host immune factors in whey on global gene expression in E.coli genes : use of microarray analysis.

Advisor : Dr Mulumebet Worku

Current: PhD Student

Professional Development

Outside the classroom, students prepare for science careers by engaging in research, teaching and outreach. They attend and make presentations at professional meetings. They write abstracts and prepare and present posters at scientific conferences they attend. In addition, they visit biotechnology firms in North Carolina, and conduct outreach in schools. They are also active in many of the professional organizations that have active chapters at N.C. A&T.

Rosette Dibanza of Raleigh NC  is pursuing a master’s degree in food and nutrition. She is researching better ways to monitor for disease-causing organisms, such as E.coli and other pathogens in spinach and other foods. Dibanza is pursuing a master’s degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences. .Advancing the teaching and understanding of agricultural biotechnology and genomics is a key objective of the National Needs Graduate Fellowship in Agricultural Biotechnology and Genomics

Thesis Title : Determining the microbiological quality and

safety of fresh spinach using the Soleris instrument.

Advisor : Dr Salam Ibrahim

Current: Working in the Food sector

Project Summary

North Carolina A&T State University has received funds to prepare M.S. level students from underrepresented groups for competitive positions in agricultural biotechnology and genomics and to provide the United States with a diverse well-trained agricultural workforce. The specific project objectives are:

1. Recruit capable students from a range of disciplines into a M.S. program designed to prepare them for careers in agricultural biotechnology and genomics

2. Provide students in this program with a broad but extensive level of education about key areas and development in biotechnology and genomics

3. Ensure that the program graduates have experience with cutting edge technology in order that they can be competitive in the market place

4. Advance the teaching and understanding of knowledge in agricultural biotechnology and genomics

5. Provide integrated training in research, extension and teaching with an awareness of social, global and ethical issues

Implementation can be expected to: (a) increase the diversity and quality of students interested in pursuing professional careers in agricultural biotechnology and genomics; (b) increase the number, quality, and diversity of students who could be accepted into graduate programs in agricultural biotechnology and genomics; (c) promote interdisciplinary learning for careers in agriculture;. (d) Increase the quality and numbers of students in the pipeline needed to meet the demand for a diverse well trained workforce in these disciplines.

faeis.ahnrit.vt.edu/documents/grants/graduate/fellow05.pdf

Funded by the USDA/CSREES : Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellowship Grants Program

At the Project directors meeting Washington DC

Charles Hatcher of Normal Alabama, shown here gathering data from one of his experiments, is researching alternative rearing practices for poultry, with the aim of making poultry products safer for consumers. His M.S. degree will be in Animal Sciences One of the aims of the National Needs Graduate Fellowship in Agricultural Biotechnology and Genomics is to ensure that students gain experience with cutting edge technology in order to be competitive in the marketplace.

Thesis Title: Health well being and product safety of broiler chickens in alternative systems Animal Sciences Dr

Advisor: Dr Willie Willis

Current: Thesis Defended

Taddashi C. Totten of Blanche NC is getting his master’s degree in agricultural education. Here, he is shown working with 4-H students at the University Farm. One of the requirements of the fellowship program is to teach and conduct 25 hours of outreach, in collaboration with the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T. Totten is pursuing a master’s degree in Agricultural Education

Thesis Title : Agricultural Education administrators perceptions about biotechnology education

Advisor : Dr Antoine Alston

Current: Virginia tech Cooperative Extension

Approach

Additional information obtained by contacting:

Dr. Millie Worku

Graduate Coordinator

Department of Animal Sciences

B. C. Webb Hall

School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

NC A&T State University

1601 East Market St

Greensboro, NC 27455

[email protected]

(336) 334-7615

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