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Scholars travel to Dubai for international conference, cultural experience

Published: 04/03/14 8:01AM
By: bradleyc

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(From L-R) Brandon Beaty, a Fort Valley State University junior plant science- biotechnology major, and senior FVSU plant science- biotechnology majors Jasmine Scott and Ashley Norris.

Plant science biotechnology majors' present research in Dubai at the 4th Annual International Conference on Biotech March 11.

An unforgettable experience has left three Fort Valley State University students with lasting memories that have broadened their cultural and educational scopes.

Unlike their peers who were relaxing for spring break vacation, seniors Ashley Norris, Jasmine Scott and junior Brandon Beaty traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). During the trip, they presented research during the Global Science and Technology Forum's 4th Annual International Conference on Biotech March 10-11.

Norris, Scott and Beaty who are pursuing undergraduate degrees in plant science biotechnology described the seven day trip as a once in a lifetime opportunity."The experience was mind-blowing," said Beaty, referencing the architecture of buildings, culture and knowledge shared among more than 70 scientists and students representing countries across the globe.

Beaty admitted he was nervous about presenting among the scholars. But through the encouragement of his peers and professor, Beaty presented and won an award for best paper oral presentation award.

"It was the best experience I've ever had," Beaty said. The Perry native said this was the trip of his academic dreams.

In addition to presenting research, students also had a chance to visit the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Dubai Campus, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ACBA), the United Arab Emirates University as well as experience Middle Eastern culture.

Norris recalled some of the highlights of her trip which include visiting the Global Village and the Dubai Miracle Garden, the world's largest natural flower garden, which has over 45 million flowers.

"There were shops set up for about 40 countries and you could walk around in each shop and see the culture of each one such as the clothes, food and jewelry," said the 22-year-old, Warner Robins native. She also mentioned how the conference was valuable. "It was interesting to see what students are researching in other countries," Norris said. Norris who plans to continue heracademic journey and pursue a doctorate said she hopes to participate in more international conferences throughout her academic career.

Furthermore, Scott said the seven day excursion, has changed her perspective. "I'm considering international jobs and graduate programs in the future," Scott said. The Atlanta native said her previous inhibitions are gone and she encourages other students to pursue opportunities beyond their comfort zone. "Be confident, be prepared and enjoy your experiences," Scott said.

Dr. Sarwan Dhir, a FVSU professor of biotechnology and director of FVSU's Center for Biotechnology said Norris, Scott and Beaty were selected for this trip based on academic performance, internship experience, leadership qualities and research presentation skills. Dhir said he is proud of his students' accomplishments.

"For the first time, our students were selected to present their research work at an international meeting and they did an excellent job. Our undergraduates also exposed Fort Valley State University to an international audience," Dhir said. This conference and travel expenses for the students are funded by the National Science Foundation.

For more information about FVSU's plant science biotechnology program, contact Dr. Sarwan Dhir at 478-825-6687 or send an e-mail to dhirs0@fvsu.edu.