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Baudelio De Santiago a participant in the Assured
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Baudelio De Santiago, a participant in the Assured

June 11, 2010
Baudelio De Santiago, a participant in the Assured--Agriculture Summer Science Research and Development--program, mixes a batch of biological control agents. De Santiago explored methods of combating a pepper fungus during his participation in Assured. [Image 1 of 4 related images. See Image 2.]

More about this Image: Assured, which is run by New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute, takes ten college freshmen and sophomores who are the children and/or grandchildren of migrant and seasonal farmworkers, and gives them a chance to work with plants inside in a lab, rather than outside in the fields picking crops.

The program gives students the opportunity to experience first hand, the satisfaction of enhancing a crop through research. Students learn lab techniques, plant breeding, nutrients and the ethics and process of research, after which they prepare presentations about their findings. Examples of topics used by students include the control of a pepper-blighting fungus, the effect of an herbicide on crops, agricultural economics and isolation of chile DNA. Assured prompts students to consider the possibility of improving productivity through genetic engineering, making plants pest resistant and boosting the nutritional value of a harvest.

Assured is sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.