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High school student conducts experiments at Fort Valley State University

Published: 01/26/15 9:50AM
By: booner

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Dr. Nirmal Joshee (L), head of the graduate biotechnology program at Fort Valley State University, instructs Northeast High School senior Auriel Wright at the Houston Stallworth Agricultural Research Station.

Auriel Wright, a senior attending Northeast High School in Macon, was looking for an adequate laboratory to conduct agriculture research. An encounter with an instructor from Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology changed her fortunes.

Auriel learned about FVSU’s facilities through Dr. Curtis Borne, a FVSU agriculture education professor while attending an FFA meeting at Northeast. “I told him about my project and how I was seeking lab space,” Auriel said. Borne then told her to contact Dr. Nirmal Joshee, head of FVSU’s graduate biotechnology program.

“She had a wonderful project, but she did not have the necessary facilities at her own school to complete her work,” Joshee said. “Because we are an agricultural research station, we are very well equipped to conduct research on plants, animals, microbes and biotechnology as a whole,” said Joshee, explaining why FVSU’s facilities are ideal for Auriel’s experiment. 

The Macon native’s experiments focused on the effect of electrotherapy on crop plants. During her experiment, Auriel used soybean seeds in her lab work to help design an organic method that will allow plants to grow healthier and more abundantly without modification of its genes. She said the goal of her research is to help fight world hunger.

Joshee gives credit to Borne for directing Auriel to FVSU’s labs. “He realized that some of her experiments could have been done better, and he guided her to my lab,” Joshee said. He added that she just needed some help to run her experiments using some of FVSU’s modern equipment and guidance. “She came here, she did it and the rest is wonderful,” Joshee said.

Thanks to the use of FVSU’s labs, Auriel presented her work at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, where she won fourth place honors in an international competition against other high school students.

Auriel says that whenever people ask her where she conducted her research, she tells them it was at FVSU. She said she especially tells people who could potentially be students or who are conducting research in the local area to look into using the laboratories at the university.    

Joshee said that Auriel is a great ambassador for FVSU. By allowing students such as Auriel to conduct work at FVSU’s facilities, Joshee said they will learn about the capacity and capabilities of doing work at the university. “The word is spreading. When students come and see our facilities, they will decide to go Fort Valley State University, and that is mutually helpful,” Joshee said.

After graduation from high school Auriel plans to attend college, major in nursing and minor in multi-cultures. Later, she wants pursue a career with the World Health Organization (WHO).

For more information about the biotechnology program, contact Joshee at 478-822-7049 or josheen@fvsu.edu.