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International crowd visits campus to attend annual paulownia conference

Published: 04/01/2015 11:33AM
By: booner


(From left to right) Dr. Nirmal Joshee,  a Fort Valley State University professor of plant science and biotechnology, Dr. David Sutton, vice president of the American Paulownia Association and Roberto Mena, director of a biomass fuel plant in Guatemala, inspect a Fender guitar made from paulownia trees during the American Paulownia Association’s 24th Annual Conference held at Fort Valley State University March 27-28.

More than 100 people from across the U.S. and internationally traveled to Fort Valley State University to attend the American Paulownia Association’s (APA) 24th annual conference March 27-28.

The purpose of the APA is to promote the growing of paulownia trees and to provide information to individuals interested in growing paulownia trees. George Newsome, president of the APA, said FVSU was selected to host the event because of its research with paulownia concerning biomass for the production of fuel, honey produced from bees visiting paulownia blooms and growing high quality trees at an accelerated rate using plant tissue technology.

Newsome also said that Dr. Nirmal Joshee, FVSU professor of plant science and biotechnology, played a key role in organizing this year’s conference. During the conference, participants listened to researchers discuss topics about producing and marketing paulownia. In addition to the lectures, conference attendees also toured FVSU’s paulownia groves. Moreover, the conference presented an opportunity for two students pursuing a graduate degree in FVSU’s Biotechnology Program to network with researchers. Ting He, a native of China and Zachary Perry from Cross Lanes, W.Va., presented their thesis research to scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and California State University-Northridge.

Roberto Mena, director of a biomass fuel plant in Guatemala City, Guatemala, said he will apply the information he received at the conference to help his plant run efficiently and possibly provide affordable materials for housing in his country.

In addition to Mena, Dr. Jitendra Prakash, president of In Vitro International, a company that produces paulownia plants in Bangalore, India, said he plans to use the information discussed at the conference to help his company which ships paulownia plants worldwide.

For more information about paulownia research at FVSU, contact Joshee at 478-822-7049 or josheen@fvsu.edu