NC State Faculty and Students Lead Workshop in Peru

Cristina Salinas, Eli Hornstein and Nathan Wilson with the Dr. Maria Valderamma and students and faculty from the biology department.

Drs. Heike Sederoff and Marcela Rojas-Pierce have been leading a workshop on Bioinformatics and Plant Molecular Biology since May 22 at the National University of San Agustin, in Arequipa, Peru. The workshop which will last until May 29th is also co-taught by two PhD candidates, Nathan Wilson and Eli Hornstein and a Research Assistant (and soon-to-be Mayo clinic student) Cristina Salinas from the Sederoff lab. The workshop is divided into seminars in the morning, with topics ranging from modern molecular plant biology, an introduction bioinformatic tools and research talks from all five group members. In the afternoon, students and faculty members of UNSA can gain hands-on experience doing DNA and RNA extraction, amplification and PCR as well as microscopy in the lab sessions led by Nathan, Eli and Cristina.

Eli Hornstein, Nathan Wilson and Cristina Salinas teaching the lab session of the workshop at UNSA, Arequipa, Peru

However, the educational contribution by the group does not end here! All of the presentations have been recorded and will be uploaded to the bioinformatics webpage, allowing UNSA and other Spanish-speaking students, faculty and professionals to listen to and review the contents of the workshop materials.

In order to keep this type of interaction and collaborative effort going, UNSA and NC State have been discussing the possibility of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with a strong focus on student and faculty internships at NC State. UNSA’s chancellor and vice-chancellor of academics met with the group to thank them for their contribution and to reiterate their interest in continuing these collaborative efforts.

Left to right: Cristina Salinas, Nathan Wilson, Dr. Ana Maria Gutierrez, Eli Hornstein, Dr. Heike Sederoff, Dr. Rohel Sanchez, Dr. Sara Prado, Dr. Marcela Rojas-Pierce, Dr. Maria Valderamma and Orlando Fredi Angulo

“This has been a wonderful experience, and we’re only half-way through the trip.  Not only will it lead to collaborative projects, but it’s also been a great learning and cultural opportunity for my students” said Dr. Sederoff. Sederoff and Rojas-Pierce will be mentoring two UNSA students each, and they are also in the process of writing some grant proposals to study native Peruvian crop plants.

Drs. Sederoff and Rojas-Pierce acknowledge that none of this would have been possible without the help and coordination of Dr. Maria Valderamma, Professor in the Biology department and Director of all UNSA research units, as well as Dr. Sara Prado, CREdO Program coordinator, and the generous funding from the International Seed Fund from NC State, which funded Prado, Hornstein, Wilson and Salinas’ travel, as well as the UNSA grant for Investigadores de Impacto 2019, which funded Rojas-Pierce and Sederoff’s travel.

We look forward to seeing this collaboration continue to develop and grow.