Lectures for Non-Scientists

Kirksville Chapter of Sigma Xi

News Release:  September 27, 2002

Buckner to Give Kirksville Sigma Xi "Lecture for Non-Scientists"

Engineering plants and animals will be the focus of the first Sigma Xi lecture for non-scientists.  The talk, entitled "Biotechnology - It's All Around Us: An Introduction to Genetically Modified Organisms", will be presented by Brent Buckner, Ph.D.  Buckner is an Associate Professor of Biology at Truman State University and the recipient of the Kirksville Sigma Xi "Researcher of the Year" Award for 2002.  The 45-minute talk, which is free and open to the public, will be given at 7pm on Thursday, October 3, 2002 in the Kirksville Senior High School Library.

"Genetic engineering is something which will have an impact on each and everyone of us", remarked James Rhodes, Ph.D., Chairperson of the Outreach Committee of Sigma Xi. "Genetic engineering has the potential to revolutionize agriculture and medicine, but using these powerful new tools is not without controversy.  Everyone should have a basic understanding of what genetic engineering is and how it can be used.  For this reason, we are pleased that Dr. Buckner will be giving a talk for non-scientists about genetic engineering."

Buckner's lecture will be geared for people who do not have a science background.  The concepts that form the basis for biotechnology, such as genes, DNA and genetic selection, will be presented in a way that should be understandable to someone who has had no prior exposure to genetics or biotechnology.

"Biotechnology is the process where a biological organism, such as an animal, a plant, or yeast, is used to produce a useful product", explained Buckner.  "Biotechnology includes such common processes as beer, wine, bread, and cheese production.  Plant and animal breeders were among the first biotechnologists.  Recently, genetic engineering has been used to create 'genetically modified organisms' or 'GMOs' by altering the genetic material (DNA) of the organisms to enable them to produce useful products.  In my presentation, I will attempt to clearly describe the basic steps in producing GMOs and highlight some GMOs that are already commonly used in our society." Lastly, continued Buckner "the presentation will attempt to describe some of the issues that surround the use of GMOs."

Buckner received his bachelor's degree from Lock Haven State University of Pennsylvania, and his master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Vermont.  He is an outstanding teacher and has received several teaching awards, including the American Medical Student Association Golden Apple Award in 2000 and the William O'Donnel Lee Advising Award in 2001.  Buckner, whose research focuses on the genetics of corn, is a member of the Missouri Biotechnology Association.

Sigma Xi is a national honor society for science and engineering, dedicated to promoting scientific enterprise and honoring scientific achievements.  The Kirksville Chapter was founded in 1989 and is comprised principally of faculty and students from Truman State University and Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.  Buckner's talk is the Kirksville Chapter's first public lecture for non-scientists. Rhodes commented, "we hope that this talk is well-received by the community and that it will be the beginning of a continuing series of talks."

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Created:  October 8, 2002.  Last update:  October 8, 2002

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