Interview with Om Parkash Dhankher, Associate professor in plant biology, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, Universtiy of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA
Please elaborate on the scope for plant biologists in the United States.
Plant biotechnology has tremendous potential for future growth for global food security, safety and human and environmental health. Human population is predicted to be 10 billion by 2050. Further, due to massive urbanisation in developing countries, arable land for food production is shrinking and climate change will also have detrimental effect on food production. Therefore, in order to produce enough food to feed the population, we need to produce triple or quadruple the amount of food with the existing land and resources, which will be a daunting task. This would be possible by combining modern biotechnological approaches with conventional methods of agriculture production.
Why should a student choose UMass for plant biotechnology?
We have proved ourselves in research on crop improvements, phytoremediation, biofuels, natural products and biologics, developmental and reproductive plant biology and plant-microbes interactions. There is no need to look beyond these actually.
Tell us about the programmes the school offers.
Two interdisciplinary graduate programmes are available — plant biology and molecular and cellular biology. Visit these links for further info, www.bio.umass.edu/plantbio and www.bio.umass.edu/mcb.