Students learn about compassionate science in India

Nine biotechnology students traveled to India this summer expecting to learn about the country’s latest scientific breakthroughs.

Georgia (Sep 18, 2006) — Nine biotechnology students traveled to India this summer expecting to learn about the country’s latest scientific breakthroughs.

Though they did conduct hands−on experiments with DNA−based technology and did meet with scientists researching neck and throat cancer antibodies‚ their education went far beyond scientific advances. They also discovered elements not always found in a lab — compassion and humility.

“People look at science as something objective‚ but the people in India felt that it was their duty to put compassion into science‚” said student Corey Ruckert. “We learned how they look at science as a way to fix a problem‚ especially in relation to things like the tsunami that hit the area.”

Student Rula Osta added that one of the professors she met in India told her‚ “Science without compassion is not science.”

While the students used state−of−the−art equipment to extract DNA‚ work with foodborne pathogens‚ view plant tissue cultures and detect genetically modified organisms‚ they also observed top scientists carrying out their work with humility at some of the most advanced institutions in India: the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore and Biocon in Bangalore.

But their introduction to India didn’t end in the lab. During their three−week trip‚ led by professor Premila Achar‚ the students also visited cultural icons such as the Taj Mahal and witnessed the daily life of India’s citizens.

“We were told that to understand biotechnology in India‚ you must understand the people and the culture‚” said student Aquanetta Lane.

That human knowledge‚ according to Dan Paracka‚ director of the office of international services and programs‚ is key to a well−rounded education.

“We want our students to be responsible global citizens who have the skills to interact effectively across cultures and in a global context‚” he said.

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