The University of Georgia was awarded federal stimulus funding to launch a new program to meet the workforce needs of Georgia’s growing biotechnology industry.
The three-year, $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will create a new Professional Science Master’s program in biomanufacturing and bioprocessing. Only 21 of 210 universities were selected to receive the award.
“The focus of a PSM is different from the traditional undergraduate, master’s or doctoral degree,” said Timothy Davies, co-director of the UGA program and a research scientist in biochemistry and molecular biology. “It allows individuals to pursue advanced scientific training in a particular sector of industry while developing a strong foundation in business practices. It equips students with the skills that industry requires.”
“This … is an exciting first at UGA, providing a more direct connection between graduate training and workforce development in an area of intense need in this country,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research. “This is a prime example of a new trend in workforce-directed academic/industrial/government partnerships.”
The degree program is awaiting approval from the University Council Executive Committee and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.
There are about 200 PSM programs nationwide. The eight to 10 students in the UGA program will study biofuel/biochemical, industrial/environmental or pharmaceutical areas.
Courses will be taught by faculty in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, College of Pharmacy, College of Veterinary Medicine, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Terry College of Business, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Bioenergy Systems Research Initiative and Faculty of Engineering.
The biomanufacturing training facilities at UGA are unique in the Southeast and state-of-the-art for industry, Davies said. Strong industry links will enhance students’ experiences through seminars and guest lectures, lab-based case studies and internship opportunities.
The NSF funds will support recruitment and fellowships for new master’s program students. The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Centers for Innovation and Georgia Bio will provide industry contacts and expertise. The Georgia BioBusiness Center, UGA’s technology incubator, will foster links between students and regional start-up companies.