Clemson geneticist shares knowledge with Daniel High School students
CENTRAL — A love for science and the belief knowledge should be shared are what a Clemson University professor says are his reasons for talking about plant genomics to a group of Daniel High School students.
Stephen Kresovich, an internationally-acclaimed geneticist who holds the Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Chair of Genetics in Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS), spoke to a group of Daniel High students about his career Wednesday night.
“Genetics is a wonderful field,” Kresovich told the students. “There is so much to do and so much to discover.”
His presentation focused on diversity genomics and how it contributes to agricultural, environmental and health sciences in the 21st century.
“I believe it is important for all people to understand how the future of genetics will affect them in their day-to-day activities,” Kresovich said. “I believe it is important for us, as geneticists, to share the type of science we work with so that the public will better understand genetics.”
The students he spoke to are members of the Science National Honor Society and Junior Academy of Science clubs. Joseph Jensen, a 17-year-old senior, is president of the school’s Science National Honor Society chapter and coordinated the event last summer while in Korea as a member of the U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program. Jensen said Kresovich’s presentation is just one of six he has scheduled for this school year.
“I was trying to find speakers and came across an article on the Clemson website about Dr. Kresovich’s work,” Jensen said. “I read it and thought plant genetics would be a good topic for one of the presentations. So I e-mailed him and it worked out.”
Emma Rulhoniemi is another 17-year-old senior who said she appreciated the opportunity she had to hear about Kresovich and his work.
“I always find these presentations very informative,” said Rulhoniemi, who plans to attend college and pursue a double major in psychology and international studies. “The passion of the speakers comes through, and even if the topic is something I’m initially not interested in, I always learn a lot.”
Jacob Moreland, a 17-year-old senior who is interested in pursuing a degree in wildlife biology rom Clemson, said he enjoys hearing presentations such as Kresovich’s.
“It’s interesting to hear what people have to say about the field they work in,” Moreland said. “Coming to these lectures always gives me a clearer understanding of what people do in different fields. Lectures such as this are very informative.”
Gary DuBose, another Honor Society member who plans to attend Clemson University, said the lectures helped him choose his major.
“I like people and I like engineering,” DuBose said. “Attending these lectures helped me decide on a career in industrial engineering. Industrial engineering is more of a management area which will allow me to work with people.”
Kresovich is in charge of Clemson University’s Advanced Plant Technology Program. He is known for his molecular research to improve crop production in sorghum, sugar cane and maize. He applies genomics and bioinformatics tools to address issues in agriculture, conservation and human health, as well.
Before joining Clemson in 2013, Kresovich was SmartState Endowed Chair of Genomics at the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina, where he characterized and utilized the genetic diversity of animals and microbes and plants important for crop, horticulture, forestry and pharmaceuticals.
Prior to coming to South Carolina, Kresovich was director of Cornell University’s Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies and also was vice provost for life sciences and interim vice provost for research. Prior to those appointments, he served as laboratory director at USDA National Genetic Resources Program gene banks in New York and Georgia.