Garden City Community College freshman journalism student, Brett Cady, was one of three Kansas students chosen to attend the Biotech University Seminar at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona. Cady, a native Garden Citian, along with Bernie Verhaeghe, a sophomore at Johnson County Community College, and Gwendolyn Baumgardner, a Johnson County native attending Drake University, were awarded scholarships for the seminar by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
Cady was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by GCCC journalism instructor, Laura Guy York. “Mrs. Guy knew that I was interested in agricultural journalism and thought this was a great opportunity for me to explore the field further and expand my resume,” said Cady. “I was honored to be chosen and excited for the opportunity to learn more about genetic engineering and meet experts in the field.”
Biotech University is a seminar designed to introduce journalism and communication students to the emerging science of biotechnology. During the seminar which recently took place at the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism, experts explain what biotechnology is, give hands-on demonstrations of how it’s done and focus on the scientific, business and political issues surrounding the science. Students also had the opportunity to visit a nearby farm to see biotech crops in the field and toured labs where biotechnology experiments are performed.
“Genetically modified crops are nothing new to Kansas,” said Cady, “however, I believe it is becoming increasingly important due to climate changes and more frequent and severe droughts. With recent advances in genetic engineering, seed companies are able to produce new plant varieties engineered to withstand certain extreme environmental conditions.”
While at the seminar, Cady also visited a lab where scientists are experimenting with extracting electrodes from two cultures of bacteria to power water treatment plants. “Though my main interests are in journalism, I find the topic of genetic engineering very interesting yet somewhat controversial in today’s world,” Cady added, “making the subject a great area to focus on.”
After the seminar, students have the opportunity to compete for prizes in the Biotech University Contest. They are invited to produce multimedia content about biotechnology such as news articles, feature stories, video, audio and multimedia pieces, to be submitted for review and scored by a panel of independent judges. The top three entries win prizes and scholarships. The grand prize is an all-expense paid trip to the International Association of Plant Biotechnology Congress in Melbourne, Australia August 2014. Second and third place winners will receive $1,500 scholarships.