Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

5-30-06

Contacts:

Stephen Howell, Plant Sciences Institute, (515) 294-5267, shh@iastate.edu

Kyle Taylor, Borlaug Intern, kwtaylor@iastate.edu

Michelle Jebsen, Borlaug Intern, mlj@iastate.edu

Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778

ISU Borlaug Interns begin research adventures in China, Mexico

AMES, Iowa -- Conducting scientific research as an undergraduate student is not uncommon these days--unless it involves researching world hunger in another country during summer vacation. For the Iowa State University Borlaug Interns, that's exactly what's involved.

Michelle Jebsen, Marshalltown, a junior in nutritional science, and Kyle Taylor, Abilene, Kan., a May graduate in agricultural biochemistry, are the 2006 Borlaug Interns. They're embarking on extraordinary research experiences this summer.

Jebsen is headed to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico to work on research involving fortifying corn with vitamin A.

Taylor is on his way to Hangzhou, China. He'll be working on iron fortification of rice at the Institute of Plant Sciences, Zheijiang University.

Their two-month, all-expense-paid internships are sponsored by the Plant Sciences Institute, the ISU College of Agriculture's Global Agriculture Program and the World Food Prize, Des Moines. This is the fifth year for the internship program, named for Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, an Iowa native and father of the "Green Revolution."

"The Borlaug Internship is an exciting research experience for these students," said Stephen Howell, director of the Plant Sciences Institute. "They conduct real-world research--in the laboratory and in the field. It gives them the opportunity to engage in international development and food production first-hand."

Students are selected on the basis of superior academic ability, plus courses, work experience and career interest related to international food production.

Jebsen is no stranger to research experiments involving vitamin A fortification of foods to decrease nutritional deficiencies. As a 2005 Summer Scholar Intern in ISU's Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition, she worked on the vitamin A fortification research of Wendy White, food science and human nutrition associate professor. Jebsen also worked as a laboratory assistant in biological sciences.

Taylor will work in the Chinese laboratory of an Iowa State alumnus. Huixia "Sylvia" Shou earned her Ph.D. degree in 2003 and is a professor at Zheijiang University. She studied with Kan Wang, associate professor of agronomy and director of the Center for Plant Transformation and Gene Expression.

Taylor knew early in his undergraduate studies that he wanted to pursue a research career. He worked in Wang's plant transformation laboratory and in the laboratory of Robert Thornburg, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology. He also was a National Science Foundation summer research intern at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Mo.

"With the Borlaug Internship, I'll probably gain more than I expect," Taylor said. "One of my goals has been to work on research that applies to Third World countries. I'll be working on a project that aims to improve the bioavailability of iron in rice, to help prevent anemia."

Taylor will begin graduate studies in the fall at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif..

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Quick look

Michelle Jebsen, Marshalltown, a junior in nutritional science, and Kyle Taylor, Abilene, Kan., a May graduate in agricultural biochemistry, are the 2006 Borlaug Interns. Jebsen will work on research involving fortifying corn with vitamin A in Mexico. Taylor will work on iron fortification of rice at Zheijiang University in Hangzhou, China. The internships are sponsored by the Plant Sciences Institute, the ISU College of Agriculture's Global Agriculture Program and the World Food Prize, Des Moines.

Quote

"The Borlaug Internship is an exciting research experience for these students. They conduct real-world research in the laboratory and in the field. It gives them the opportunity to engage in international development and food production first-hand."

Stephen Howell, director of the Plant Sciences Institute