High school students and teachers get training at summer workshop


Teachers who participated in the workshop. Left to right: Reginald Jacobs, Rodney Williams, Annette Duncan, Deborah Harper, ShaRetha Crawford, Karen Williams, Kevin Horton, Crystal Johnson and Andrea Fyffe.

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (September 13, 2013) — Tuskegee University recently hosted a Plant Genomics and Biotechnology Workshop for high school teachers and students, July 29- Aug. 2. Nearly two dozen participants, chosen from a large pool of applicants from across the country, received training in innovative concepts and techniques such as gene delivery, gene expression, infectious disease transmission, DNA fingerprinting and bioinformatics through lectures and hands-on laboratory expertise.

To provide a realistic classroom scenario, the teachers were paired with students during the workshop. From the feedback received, it appears that most participants felt that the workshop was immensely useful in their understanding of recent developments in genomics and biotechnology, and helped them gain new insights into cutting-edge developments in biology.

Reginald Jacobs, a science teacher at Talladega County Central High School in Talladega, Ala., jokingly said during the closing event “I feel like we were the samples that were run through the gel electrophoresis [but in a good way].”

Kevin Horton, a science teacher from Etowah High School in Attalla, Ala., said that he felt “truly blessed to be a part of this workshop and is looking forward to take these lessons to his students.”

Walter Hill, vice provost and dean of the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Science and Olga Bolden-Tiller, associate professor and head, Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, spoke at the closing event and gave certificates to the participants. The teachers and students stayed in the dorms on campus, enjoying the intimate hospitality of Tuskegee.

C. S. Prakash, principal investigator of the project, encouraged the workshop participants to take the knowledge learned at Tuskegee University and spread it around to other students at their school.

“We hope that the workshop provided a broad perspectives of plant genomics and biotechnology through both lectures and the hands-on interactive experience in a laboratory setting,” Prakash said.

The workshop was organized by Prakash and Jacquelyn Jackson, Tuskegee faculty members in the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences, and was coordinated by Melissa Johnson. The activity was funded by a grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to TU in collaboration with Iowa State University. The workshop will be run annually during summer.

To learn more about the program, go to: http://www.tuskegee.edu/plant_genomics_and_biotechnology_workshop.aspx.

Student workshop participants. Left to right: Jeremy Allen, Kaylice Smith, Kadien Hill, Amanda Jordan, Taylor Williams, Auriel Wright, Alayjah Muhammad, Savannah Finley, Ja’Nell Smith, Tracy Billingsley, Alexander Cardona, Amani Moore.

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