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  • 01/10/17- Mississippi State Addresses Food Security through Advanced Research Techniques

    Nathan Gregory
    MSU Extension Service

    STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Two agricultural scholars spent fall 2016 at Mississippi State University learning advanced research techniques as part of an international fellowship study program.

    Ali Bhuiyan of Bangladesh and Dr. Priyadarshini Bhorali of India spent several months at MSU participating in the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program. They will now apply newly learned technology and techniques not previously used in their home countries’ universities and institutes.

    The Borlaug Fellowship Program recruits rising scientists and policymakers from developing and middle-income countries to work individually with U.S. universities, research centers or government agencies in research areas related to food security and economic growth.

    “These are very distinguished scientists that we were proud to have as a part of our team for a few weeks,” said Dr. George Hopper, director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. “They know the challenges of food insecurity and living on a planet that has finite resources. They are both young and have full careers ahead of them. I hope they will always remember their time here working with our faculty.”

    Bhuiyan, a senior officer at the Laboratory of Biotechnology at the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, and Bhorali, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at Assam Agricultural University, had mentor professors at MSU who directed their studies. Bhuiyan studied under Dr. Wen-Hsing Cheng, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. Bhorali’s mentor was Dr. Sorina Popescu, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology.

    Cheng and Popescu, both Experiment Station scientists, will continue collaborating with Bhuiyan and Bhorali by visiting their countries and helping them implement the techniques they learned at MSU. Bhuiyan said he wanted to learn genome molecular techniques commonly used in the U.S. to build on his existing livestock productivity and animal disease research. The Western blot test, the definitive test for what is known commonly as mad cow disease, was a technique he studied extensively at MSU.

    “Western blot is an example of several research strategies I learned here with a variety of useful applications in animal genetics,” he said. “I will share the information I learned here through the Borlaug Fellowship Program with my colleagues. I enjoyed the campus and found all the students I met here to be very helpful and friendly.”

    Bhorali said the Borlaug Program introduced her to quality research in her study of crop disease defense and resistance mechanisms that could lead to the development of more resistant plant varieties. She and Popescu used the fellowship to launch an effort to develop disease-resistant tomato varieties.

    “Ever since I completed my Ph.D. and began teaching and researching, I had a dream of being a Borlaug fellow because it is considered very prestigious in India,” she said. “I’m looking forward to applying what I learned here to crops that we are working on at home. I want this collaboration to extend and hopefully do something that would contribute to food security, which is a motto of this program.”