If you think the biotechnology research in this edition of the magazine is pretty amazing, wait until you see what the LSU AgCenter will be doing in the next few years.
That’s the premise behind Biotechnology Education for Students and Teachers – BEST – a program designed to help assure a flow of fresh talent into research.
One arm of BEST reaches into the state’s high schools and pulls out top-notch science teachers and their students for a biotechnology-intense, six-week summer session on campus.
“Our goal with this program is to improve the level of science education in the state and expose students to science and biotechnology research,” said Richard Tulley, BEST director. “We hope some of these young people will choose biotechnology research as a career.”
This past summer six pairs of students and teachers from across the state worked under the tutelage of many of the scientists featured in this issue of Louisiana Agriculture.
Another part of the BEST program tries to make a difference at the undergraduate level. Each spring, LSU undergraduate students can apply for a $5,000 stipend to do a biotechnology research project over the course of two semesters. Each student works with a professor who oversees the project.
This year three students were awarded these grants. One student is examining how resistant starch reduces body fat. Another is working with frozen cattle oocytes. And the third is developing a protocol for growing chicken cells.
Then there are the three BEST graduate assistantships, each for three years, and the four postdoctorates, one year each, subject to renewal.
One of the graduate students awarded a graduate assistantship, Allison Landry, works with Robert Godke, Boyd Professor in Animal Sciences. Her research involves developing new methods of nuclear transfer that she hopes will increase birth rates in cattle and sheep.
The final part of the program is a new three-hour credit course, taught by Tulley, which provides an overview of biotechnology.
BEST came about in 2001, through a $2.5 million donation from the Gordon A. Cain Foundation. Cain was a businessman in Houston whose father had been a Louisiana county agent.
For more information about the program, you may contact Tulley at (225) 578-7879. He has already begun recruiting high school science teachers for the 2004 summer program. Each teacher will receive a $6,000 stipend, and each student will receive a $3,000 stipend.
(This article appeared in the fall 2003 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture