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SPRING 2009
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Short Reports

Cornell Starts Dual-Degree Programs in India

By Krishna Ramanujan

Ganesh Nawkar, a biotechnology graduate student at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in Coimbatore, India, hopes to become one of the first Indian students to enroll in one of two new master's programs—plant breeding and food science—offered by CALS this summer. Cornell's role is historic, because these will be the first agricultural life sciences degrees to be offered by any U.S. university specifically to students in India.

Cornell and Indian students stroll across the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University campus during
the International Agriculture and Rural Development 602 field trip over winter break.
Christopher Bentley '10

Cornell and Indian students stroll across the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University campus during the International Agriculture and Rural Development 602 field trip over winter break.

Nawkar wants to apply CALS' state-of-the-art plant breeding research to his studies of molecular pathways of grasses. He hopes that studying different grass types may allow researchers to transfer the heat- and stress-resistance of sugar cane, for example, to wheat and rice. "Studying at Cornell will expose us to a global research environment and modern research equipment and will give us hands-on experience with new research strategies," says Nawkar.

Starting this summer, Cornell and TNAU will offer dual-degree programs in food science and plant breeding with up to 15 Indian students accepted for each program. Each of the two-year degrees will include a master of professional studies (MPS) degree from Cornell and a master of technology (MTech) degree from TNAU, with seven months of study in Ithaca.

"These degrees will provide students with a global perspective," says R. Chandra Babu, TNAU dean of postgraduate studies. "Students from India are not trained to think globally; they can't visualize. But a degree from Cornell will open up their vision."

For example, the food science courses at Cornell will teach students how to take milk and efficiently process it into such value-added and higher-priced products as fat-free milk and yogurt. Also, students will learn U.S. qualitycontrol guidelines, which could raise the safety standards of Indian foods that compete in global markets.

"Indian agricultural production has done better than the processing sector, but processing is about to unleash and go through the roof, so there is a tremendous demand for trained individuals who can meet the demands of the food and agro-processing sector," says Syed Rizvi, professor of food science at CALS. "It will also be good for American students to learn how things are done in a rapidly developing country."

The program has been funded by a five-year, $3 million grant from the Navajbai Ratan Tata Trust through the Cornell-Sathguru Foundation for Development, and a matching contribution of up to $1 million from the foundation, which promotes education, agriculture, technology transfer, and rural development.


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