Students from Puerto Rico learn research techniques at Fort Valley State

Published By: Latasha Ford March 15, 2023

Samantha Sherman, a Fort Valley State University research assistant, explains a procedure to visitors from Puerto Rico.

Student scientists from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Barranquitas recently visited Fort Valley State University’s (FVSU) campus for a week to engage in advanced research.

This visit stemmed from the 2022 annual American Council for Medicinally Active Plants (ACMAP) meeting in Puerto Rico, where FVSU students and faculty presented their research in various fields. ACMAP promotes and fosters research, development, production and conservation of medicinal, aromatic and other bioactive plants useful to human health. Dr. Nirmal Joshee, an FVSU professor of plant science, serves as the current ACMAP president.

FVSU has collaborated with the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Barranquitas for more than 15 years, which offers a master’s degree and doctorate in biotechnology.

“It has been a wonderful relationship, and we want to take it further,” Joshee said.

Rosalinda Aybar, who is a research technician at the Institute of Sustainable Biotechnology at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Barranquitas, joined fellow graduate student Kamila Rivera and doctoral student Christopher Sameolin on the visit. The group aimed to gain research insights and hands-on experience in microscopy and histology in Joshee’s plant science/plant biotechnology laboratory at FVSU’s Agricultural Research Station.

Samantha Sherman, an FVSU research assistant and Master of Biotechnology alumna, led the experiments that involved preparing samples for paraffin sectioning and fluorescent staining.

“They have been good students and super eager to learn,” Sherman said. The guests also interacted with FVSU graduate students.

Aybar said this was an awesome experience because of FVSU’s extensive knowledge in plant histology.

“It is fascinating research because you can see the different types of cells,” she said. “It has been very knowledgeable for me, and one of the things that I have always wanted to work with.”

Rivera added that she learned new techniques and equipment, which will advance her skills while studying biotechnology and in her future career.

Sameolin said he is grateful for the opportunity. 

“Being here gave me a wider perspective of new ideas, technology and methods to analyze data,” he said. “It has been vital for my project.”

Sameolin is researching bananas and plantains for food security in Puerto Rico.

 “We are an island that has sensitive environmental conditions like hurricanes. We want to develop strong bananas, which is the most consumed fruit,” he noted. His research will benefit farmers and growers.

Joshee said FVSU’s partnership with the Inter American University of Puerto Rico is important because both institutions have different strengths that can benefit students. As a result of this positive experience, he looks forward to exploring other opportunities.