The Louisiana Board of Regents approved a new bachelor of science degree in applied microbiology at Northwestern State University this week. The new degree will prepare students to enter directly into the workforce in the public or private sectors of environmental compliance, water and air quality, food safety, public health, organic farming/gardening and homeland security. Graduates will also be adequately prepared to further their education in medical school or graduate schools in pursuit of master’s or doctoral degrees in microbial biomedical research.
“This is not your traditional or classical microbiology degree, which tends to focus on the medical/pathological side of microbiology,” said Dr. Francene J. Lemoine, acting director of NSU’s School of Biological and Physical Sciences. “Instead, this degree will focus on the application of microbiology; that is, how microorganisms can be used in food and environmental industries. We will be focused on educating and developing students who are capable of understanding complex environmental issues and regulatory demands and how to relate these demands to the human condition. Our program will provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and applied academic skill sets necessary for success in the workforce.”
U.S. Labor statistics predict a 19 percent increase in the field due to continued growth in the biotechnology industry.
The degree offers two concentrations, an environmental and applied microbiology concentration and a medical and health profession concentration. The environmental and applied microbiology students will take classes that focus on the impact and use of microorganisms in various industries such as food production and quality control as well as environmental control. The medical and health profession students will take traditional microbiology classes as well as some applied microbiology courses to understand the global relationships of microorganisms with man.
“Any students interested in working in the area of environmental compliance or water, air, or food safety would be a great fit for the environmental and applied microbiology concentration of this program. Students interested in careers in biomedical research or who are interested in attending medical school via a route other than biology would be a great fit for the medical and health profession concentration,” Lemoine said.
Lemoine’s appointment as director of the School is pending approval by the University of Louisiana System. She has been on faculty since 2005 and is an associate professor in the Department of Biology, Microbiology and Veterinary Technology. Lemoine earned an undergraduate degree in biology at University of Southwest Louisiana, Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at Baylor College of Medicine and completed postdoctoral fellowships in genetics and microbiology at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.
Northwestern State’s new School of Biological and Physical Sciences was formed last year through a reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences. The school offers bachelor of science degrees in physical science or in biology with concentrations in either biomedical science, clinical laboratory science, forensic science, natural science or veterinary technology.
Lemoine credited Dr. Michael Land for spearheading the creation of the new degree program. In addition to Lemoine and Land, other faculty who will teach courses applicable in the degree are Dr. Christopher Lyles and Dr. Bridget Joubert. All have specialties in some area of microbiology. Other faculty will contribute to the medical and health profession concentration.
For information on degree programs offered through Northwestern State’s School of Biological and Physical Sciences, visit biology.nsula.edu.
Dr. Francene J. Lemoine leads studies in a biology lab at Northwestern State University, where a new bachelor’s degree program in applied microbiology was approved this week. Seated from left are students Kaymin Carter, Anna Rogers, Kaitlin Lewing, Demetri Hill and Ezra Bess.