Posted on: December 14th, 2023 by Mark WP Admin No Comments
Our professors are devoted to the USDA-HSI program, actively shaping the future of agriscience and biotechnology. Join us as we pave the way for innovative contributions and empower the next generation of leaders in these vital fields.
Dr. Abdul Latif Khan has received a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the School of Applied Biosciences, Kyungpook National University, South Korea. Over the years, his expertise has been in Plant-Stress Interactions to understand molecular mechanisms and biosynthetic pathways involved in climate stress tolerance. He also studies microbiome engineering to improve plant production systems with the least energy and carbon footprints. His lab is establishing a synthetic microbiome for healthy food and increased plant growth. He has also worked on economically and medicinally important plants to understand their genome organization and novel phytochemical biosynthetic pathways. He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Engineering Technology, Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston, USA. He has been the associate editor of the Journal of Plant Growth Regulation since 2020. He has more than 15 years of education and research with more than 17,000 citations (h-index 71).
Dr. Yuheng Lin is a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Biotechnology in the Department of Engineering Technology at the University of Houston (UH). He holds a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from the University of Georgia. Leading the Engineering Microbiology Lab, Dr. Lin’s research focuses on the design and engineering of microorganisms using metabolic engineering and synthetic biology approaches for biomanufacturing, agriculture, and medical applications. He has authored over 30 journal articles, including many publications in high-impact journals like Nature Communications, Metabolic Engineering, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, and ACS Synthetic Biology. In addition, he has filed six patents as a major inventor.
Dr. Venkatesh Balan has been an Associate professor at the Engineering Technology Department at Cullen College of Technology, University of Houston, since September 2017. His research concentrates on Biomass conversion to fuels, chemicals, edible mushrooms, animal feed, and biomaterials. Other areas of expertise include developing methods of producing and processing algal biomass to proteins, biofuel, and biochemical, adding value to mushroom industrial waste, and annotating fungal genes to identify novel enzymes for industrial application. He has published over 188 publications, awarded 9 patents with >15,940 citations to his credit, and edited a couple of books related to biomass conversion and microbial lipids. He has also been an expert reviewer for numerous scientific journals and on several scientific review panels.
Dr. Hyunseok Hwang is an assistant professor of sociology who earned a Ph.D. in sociology and an MPA from Texas A&M University. His academic interests encompass organization theory, environmental sociology, community resilience, philanthropic studies, and social entrepreneurship. His research has a central theme of exploring how individuals and organizations respond to institutional heterogeneity, significant societal challenges, and issues affecting organizational sustainability, particularly in the context of grand social and environmental challenges.
Dr. Shuyang Zhen is an assistant professor in Controlled Environment Agriculture/Horticulture at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. in Horticulture from the University of Georgia and worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Utah State University before joining TAMU in 2020. Her current research focuses on environmental plant physiology, electric lighting, photobiology, and optimizing fresh food production in greenhouses, indoor farms, and for space exploration. She teaches an undergraduate-level course on hydroponic food crop production and a graduate-level course on environmental instrumentation.
Dr. Albert Flavier is an Instructional Professor at the Engineering Technology Department at Cullen College of Technology, University of Houston. His specialty is microbial biotechnology, explicitly focusing on the genetic mechanisms of plant pathogens. In addition, he has several years of research and analysis related to antibody and protein engineering. He teaches several courses on the genetic engineering of microbes and their uses for human and plant health.
Posted on: December 14th, 2023 by Mark WP Admin No Comments
We will provide experiential learning (EL) and project-based learning (PBL) activities by involving BS/MS students in advanced research on plant growth and physiology, crop production, genetic engineering, plant biotechnology, microbial biotechnology, cell culture, breeding, and biocontrol areas. These activities are designed for undergraduate and graduate students to improve their research, leadership, critical thinking, and communication skills.
Instrumentation and Experimentation Day (Senior Students):
Understanding and operating highly advanced instruments are essential for students to gain technical skills for future jobs. Similarly, familiarization with troubleshoots and understanding critical steps is crucial for performing experiments related to agriculture biotechnology. Students will attend a one-day training on the instrument used in Agrisciences fields. A faculty mentor and project team member will be assigned to show the instruments and run specific samples from plants, soil, or microbes.
Research Day (Senior Undergraduate and Graduate Students):
Students will showcase their knowledge and key results obtained while performing a research project. The students will share their experiences with peers, junior students and faculties. The best projects based on a defined rubric will be awarded certificates and prizes.
Biotechnology Farm Day (Senior Undergraduate and Graduate Students):
Tailored for undergraduate and MS students specializing in agriculture, this unique program, led by Dr. Zhen, taps into the extensive agriculture extension facilities at TAMU. Students will delve into a series of field-related activities, including visits to TAMU and PVAMU research farms, ecological parks, and industrial sites. Experience the practical side of your studies with group visits, consisting of 5-8 students, for half-day immersions. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to bridge theory with real-world applications in the thriving field of agriculture.
Summer Lab Assistantship Program (Senior Undergraduate and Graduate Students):
The undergraduate students who complete the required courses and work on the EL research themes can continue working on their project to further progress towards completion of the research. Some students will spend their summers to extend their knowledge in climate-smart Agrisciences. Students may be given the opportunity for paid internships in different industries i.e. support letters and will be financially supported.
Climate Smart Workshop (Senior Undergraduate and Graduate Students):
Dive into the climate change conversation with our collaborative workshop! Open to all levels of expertise, this engaging event is designed to foster a shared understanding of climate challenges and solutions. Explore innovative ideas, exchange knowledge, and contribute to the collective effort in climate change research. Embrace the power of collaboration – everyone has a role to play. Together, let’s create a sustainable future. Register now and be part of the change!
Biotech Peer Research Cafe (Senior Undergraduate and Graduate Students):
For two hours a month, students can practice and discuss their communication and writing skills for their upcoming research careers. Both undergraduate and graduate students will be able to support each other through peer review, presentations, and exchanging of ideas. Students will also be able to receive mentorship from Ph.D. students and faculty to even further develop their skills.
Demonstrate strong foundational knowledge through research and in the development of a research project. Students will be able to showcase their knowledge and skills in literature reviews, project timelines and deadlines, and presenting their findings in a concise manner. Take advantage to develop their communication skills by presenting your findings to their peers and learning from their peer’s presentations.
Join our exclusive seminar series where leading experts and visionaries in the field share their insights, discoveries, and groundbreaking research. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to be inspired, learn from the best, and pave the way for your own success. Elevate your understanding, expand your network, and be part of the biotech revolution.
BTEC Research Club Series (Sophomore and Junior Students):
Embark on an intellectual journey with our Research Club! Unleash your curiosity as we delve into the art of crafting research hypotheses, navigating literature reviews, mastering experimental design, honing time management skills, perfecting protocol procedures, and collecting valuable data. Join us in stimulating discussions and learn the fine art of writing impactful reports and manuscripts. Ignite your passion for research and let’s explore the exciting world of discovery together!
Posted on: December 14th, 2023 by Mark WP Admin No Comments
Experiential learning activities in Climate-smart plant production:
Innovative, climate-resilient, and sustainable approaches to intensifying agricultural production are needed to meet the rising global demand for food and nutrition. This is particularly important due to the increasing water scarcity and agricultural land. Crop production in controlled environment facilities such as hydroponics and aeroponics offers new solutions to address these issues. Controlling the growing environments (light, CO2 concentration, temperature, substrate, and nutrient supply to plants) in food production systems results in higher crop yield, improved nutritional qualities, reduced usage of pesticides/fungicides, and food safety.
Learning outcome: Students will learn how to enhance crop productivity, produce quality crops, utilize resources efficiently, and reduce energy inputs.
Experiential learning activities in Microbiomes:
Microbial consortiums are significant players in plant stress tolerance. Students participating in the program will investigate the functional role of phytohormone-producing microbial consortium in the rhizosphere in activating plant resistance during climatic stresses. The students will be involved in answering critical questions such as (i) What core microbiome is lost or gained during temperature variations? (ii) how do core microbiomes function in higher or lower stress intensities?
Learning outcome: Students will learn microbial identification techniques and identify changes in metabolic capabilities of the changing microbial populations (iii) what phytohormone biosynthetic gene networks exist in rhizosphere microbes at single or consortium levels? Students will understand plant-microbiome-stress interactions to identify molecular and signaling mechanisms.
Experiential learning activities in Biocontrol agents for pathogen-resistant:
Cordyceps mushrooms (C. sinesis and C. militaris) contain antifungal and insect control compounds. These are entomopathogenic fungi that can infect insects that do not require ingestion. It is suggested that plants may be inoculated as endophytic organisms to provide systemic protection. Previous researchers have demonstrated reasonable control of the soil-borne pest coconut root grub in sandy soil through simple physical introduction into the root zone root zone 7-10. Students will learn how to cultivate cordyceps mushrooms in controlled environments using commercially obtained spore. Biocontrol molecules such as cordycepin, cordicepic acid, adenosine, and hydroxyethyl adenosine present Cordyceps will be extracted using ethanol and tested using Liquid chromatography followed by mass spectrometry.
Learning outcome: Students will learn how to produce cordyceps and extract and quantify the molecule using LC-MS.
Design and reconstruct a biosynthetic pathway in a suitable microbial host strain:
Students will learn how to immobilize microorganisms and the concentration of biomass-degrading enzymes secreted
under varying conditions. They will measure the sugar conversion as a function of time by measuring the concentration using HPLC. These fermentable sugars will produce different biocontrol microorganisms, Agrobacterium, Alcaligenes, Arthrobacter, Bacillus, Rhizobium, Serratia, Streptomyces, and Xanthomonas.
Learning outcome: Students will learn how to use genetic engineering tools, such as expression vectors and genome editing tools (e.g., CRISPR/Cas9), to introduce pathway enzymes into the microbial cells.