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Plant Sciences Collaborative Ph.D. Program Hosts Interns

The plant breeding and genetics collaborative Ph.D. program between NDSU and the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez encourages agriculture students from UPRM to pursue graduate studies and careers in agricultural research. Part of this program includes an opportunity for UPRM students to intern in the Department of Plant Sciences at NDSU during the summer.
Plant Sciences Collaborative Ph.D. Program Hosts Interns

Summer 2013 UPRM Interns (l-r): Cecelia Monclova Santana, Emill Chinea Pérez and Mariely Rosado Martinez

Three new interns from the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez (UPRM) arrived in the North Dakota State University Plant Sciences Department on May 27. Cecelia Monclova Santana, Emill Chinea Pérez and Mariely Rosado Martinez are the eighth class of interns in the program, which was established in 2006 to create a collaborative Ph.D. program for UPRM students.

The UPRM is a land-grant university providing students in the Caribbean and South America opportunities to obtain bachelor’s degrees in agricultural sciences, among others. Master’s level programs are also available in animal and crop sciences as well as horticulture, food science and technology and agricultural economics and education.

Since 2006, 31 UPRM students from Puerto Rico, Haiti and Colombia, among other countries, have come to NDSU to participate in the program.  Seven of those students have returned to NDSU to pursue advanced degrees after completing their internships.

This year’s interns are diverse in background and experience, as well as future plans. Mariely Rosado Martinez, who is interning with Dr. Kalidas Shetty, is completing an undergraduate degree in biology with plans to attend medical school. This summer she is researching the relationship between food consumption in Puerto Rico and effects on the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. She is focusing on agricultural plant food products research.

Cecilia Monclova, who is interning with Dr. Richard Horsley, has graduated from UPRM with an agronomy degree and will pursue a M.S. degree in Plant Pathology studying the endemic diseases of Puerto Rico’s forests. Her long term goal is to seek a traditional plant breeding Ph.D.

Emill Chinea Pérez is completing his B.S. in agronomy at UPRM and is interested in pursuing a M.S. in plant breeding. He is interning with Dr. Mohamed Mergoum.

Angela Linares - UPRMMany of the past interns pursuing advanced degrees at NDSU are also pursuing traditional plant breeding M.S. or Ph.D. degrees.  Angela Linares (left), who was in the original intern group in 2006, will complete a Ph.D. in Dr. Juan Osorno’s dry bean program in 2013. Irene Roman interned in 2010 and is now completing a M.S. in Dr. Asunta Thompson’s potato breeding program.  José Rivera and Verónica Brotons, interns in 2010 and 2012, respectively, are both working on M.S. degrees in Dr. Richard Horsley’s barley breeding program. Adriana Rodriguez interned in 2009 and is also pursuing a M.S. degree in Dr. Thompson’s program.

Interns have also returned to NDSU in other programs.  Alfredo Aponte met his wife, Julianna Francheschi during their internships in 2011.  He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in the forage program with Dr. Marisol Berti focusing on biomass, food and biofuel production.  His wife is seeking a M.S. in Plant Pathology with Dr. del Rio.

When introduced to U.S. agriculture, an almost universal reaction of the interns and students was amazement at the large-scale and technical farming practices.  The students praise the research programs at NDSU, saying that the amount of money spent on high quality research is impressive and excellently prepares students to enter the industrial agriculture work force.  Angela Linares said that the flat country and big farm equipment seemed like “Disneyland in Fargo” when she first arrived as an intern in 2006. She will finish her Ph.D. in the fall of 2013 and is looking for work in a warmer climate, saying that she has never completely adjusted to the cold temperatures in North Dakota – even in the warmest months of the year – which seems to be one of the only negatives of an otherwise highly successful program.

For more information about the collaborative program, go to http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/plantsciences/graduate/uprm.

NDSU Department of Plant Sciences - June 7, 2013
Editor: Karen Hertsgaard, (701) 231-5384, karen.hertsgaard@ndsu.edu

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