November 2014, Volume 18, Number 4

Powerful Partnerships

 

Two Professors Earn Prestigious USDA Fellowships

Miami Dade College professors Dr. Jorge C. Gibert and Dr. John Barimo are participants in the prestigious United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2014 E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship program. They are among only 15 fellows chosen nationally.

This year’s fellows from Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) were selected based on the compatibility of their interests with USDA mission areas, as well as the value their experiences will add to their institutions’ educational capacities. HSIs are accredited, degree-granting institutions of higher education with a full-time Hispanic student enrollment of 25 percent or more. Partnerships fostered by the fellowship promote services and employment opportunities offered by USDA agencies.

Biophysics in Agriculture

Gibert teaches at Wolfson Campus and coordinates the physics program. His research in the biophysics of the visual system includes the development of non-invasive methods to assess the distribution of light in the retina and its relationship to macular degeneration. He intends to create a multidisciplinary research group to apply biophysics principles to agricultural production, safety and environment protection.

“This fellowship will have a positive impact on our student population, especially underrepresented students pursuing STEM fields and those in MDC’s new Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences,” Gilbert said. “It will also enable us to expand the Agricultural Career Exploration Program (ACE) currently offered at MDC.”

Improving Local Farming

Barimo has a diverse background in industry, government and academia. He worked as a telecommunications engineer before further pursuing his academic passion in the life sciences. An ecologist by training, he chairs mathematics and sciences at Homestead Campus, where he is in the initial stages of building agricultural-based programs to serve local farming communities. He also serves on the advisory committee for the Miami-Dade County Extension Office.

Barimo’s fellowship included collaborating with USDA scientists on the neuro-physiology of local agricultural pests to better understand what odors attract these insects so as to improve chemical lures for mass trapping these insects.

“I hope to build a partnership with the nearby Subtropical Horticulture Research Station that would provide continued opportunities for MDC students,” he said.


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