By Jennifer Sadowski, Program Manager, Bioscience Programs at University of Wisconsin Extended Campus
Dr. Mark Levenstein, an Academic Director for the University of Wisconsin Master’s in Applied Biotechnology program and Assistant Professor of Biology at UW-Platteville, was recently awarded the prestigious Regent Scholar Award for his innovative research proposal, “Aryl Fluorinated Ethers to Develop the Next Generation of Agrochemicals.”
Levenstein’s research focuses on creating new types of agrochemicals by incorporating fluorine atoms to increase the effectiveness of chemicals used in agricultural practices.
“The Regent Scholar Grant is a collaborative project between the UW-Platteville Biology and Chemistry departments to characterize the biological activity of newly modified chemicals,” Levenstein said. “We begin by comparing the properties of an antifungal medication both before and after modification. Our goal is to apply the same technique to agrochemicals and create options for farmers that reduce our environmental footprint.”
Levenstein’s award will support his research program with undergraduates at UW-Platteville in the form of a $50,000 grant.
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“The generosity of the UW Board of Regents has created six paid, full-time, summer research opportunities for our students,” he said. “I can envision these students going on to careers in the biotechnology industry and perhaps pursuing advanced degrees like our own MS in Applied Biotechnology.”
Levenstein’s cutting-edge research is also integrated into the courses he teaches as part of the UW Applied Biotechnology program.
“Many current students in the program work in ‘green biotechnology,’” he said. “Courses I have taught, like ABT 765: Assessing Innovation in Biotechnology, feature rich discussions in which students share thoughts on important topics like genetically modified organisms. In these forums, they engage as professionals with one another and their instructor, considering not just the technical feasibility of biotechnologies, but a host of impacts like commercial viability and ethical implications.”
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