Johnny Morgan, Hay, Gary M., Page, Timothy G.
BATON ROUGE, La. – Eight animal science faculty members from three federal universities in Brazil spent Nov. 11-15 at the LSU AgCenter visiting with professors, scientists and students in an effort to learn more about various research programs.
The goal of their visit was to begin an exchange program of animal science faculty and students from both countries, said Gary Hay, director of the LSU AgCenter School of Animal Sciences.
“Brazil's government has implemented a program called Science Without Borders, where they are offering full scholarships for their undergraduate and graduate students to study abroad to increase their knowledge of global agriculture,” Hay said.
During their weeklong stay in Baton Rouge, the Brazilians met with leaders on the LSU Baton Rouge campus, AgCenter program leaders and research station personnel at Central Stations in Baton Rouge and the Southeast Dairy Research Station near Franklinton, as well as visited the vet school, Hay said.
“While visiting the Central Research Station farms they had an opportunity to observe an ultrasound demonstration by LSU AgCenter animal scientist Tim Page.
The demonstration is part of the herd improvement program that Page has used with beef cattle producers across the state.
“I primarily work with beef producers to help them improve the quality of the calves they are producing,” Page said. “What we’re doing here today is using ultrasound to determine the carcass traits and carcass quality of the animals.”
Page said one way he uses the technology is to determine a producer’s best heifers to keep for replacement.
Hay said he wanted the Brazilian visitors to see the research being done here as a way to attract their students to LSU and in the process send LSU students there to do research.
“Our beef operations are quite similar to theirs, and this is a way for both countries to share knowledge that can be useful to all,” Hay said.
Mario A. Lira Jr., graduate studies coordinator and agronomist from Rural Federal University in Brazil, said the Brazilian government is interested in its students developing international collaborations.
“One of the ways we are doing that is by taking representatives from each of our programs every year to an external university mainly in the U.S. and the U.K.,” Lira said.
The Science Without Borders program will make it easier for students and professors to start making the personal contacts that will make relations easier, Lira said.
“Our federal government is financing 110,000 fellowships outside the country,” Lira said. “These opportunities will be available to undergraduate students through the Ph.D. and postdoc programs.”
Brazil currently doesn’t have the contacts necessary to get the program to the level they would like.
“Our professors can’t just send an email for Professor Gary to come down to Brazil to do a two-week course for us without some type of relationship,” Lira said. “That’s kind of a cold call. But if he knows us, he will be more likely to come – totally at our expense.”
The exchange is normally for a year, but because most of Brazil’s students speak Portuguese and poor English, they are allowed an extra six months in English-speaking countries to study only English before the yearlong period begins, Lira said.
Last year the group visited Texas A&M as part of the program, and in the past the Brazilian students have gone to Portugal and Spain because of the lack of language barriers.
Hay hopes to have LSU students collaborate on research projects with Brazil because he sees this as a good opportunity for students here to expand their international contact list as well.Johnny Morgan