Chancellor Sonny Perdue Tours FVSU

by Latasha Ford

Posted on Aug 19, 2022

University System of Georgia Chancellor Dr. Sonny Perdue and Dr. Ashwani Monga, chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor of academic affairs, visited Fort Valley State University to tour the campus, including the state-of-the-art agricultural research facilities.

FVSU’s senior leadership team served as guides with President Dr. Paul Jones, Dr. Olufunke Fontenot, provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Dr. Govind Kannan, vice president of economic development and land-grant affairs, leading the group. Also joining them were Blue Coats captain Xavier Wright, senior political science major.

The first stop on the tour was the O’Neal Veterinary Science Building. Perdue, who earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine, and Monga met with Dr. Saul Mofya, interim department head and assistant professor of veterinary science and public health, and Dr. George McCommon, professor of veterinary science. They received updates on the 1890 Land-Grant University’s various offerings to students, including the only four-year veterinary technology program in the state of Georgia.

This sought-after program provides students with a broad-based background in basic sciences, as well as veterinary disciplines that will enable them to be successful in veterinary school or employed as veterinary technicians. Students can take full advantage of quality equipment to examine, treat and care for various animals.

In addition, the department’s State Animal Facility for Emergencies (SAFE) Center has become a temporary home for many animals during natural and man-made disasters. The 7,800 square-foot facility housed more than 100 animals from Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah in 2017 during Hurricane Irma.

The second stop on the tour was the Stallworth Agricultural Research Building, where Perdue and Monga learned from Dr. Nirmal Joshee, an FVSU plant science professor, about FVSU’s advanced Center for Ultrastructure Research (CURE). The facility, which Joshee oversees, enhances research capacity, student training and industry partnerships. It is the only one of its kind in middle and south Georgia with both scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) capabilities.

Stepping next door to the Stallworth Biotechnology Building, Joshee continued the tour as he highlighted FVSU’s research on paulownia, one of the fastest growing trees in the world, and Scutellaria, a medicinal plant.

During the visit, Monga and the former U.S. secretary of agriculture saw that FVSU not only serves its students, but it also provides high school students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in its laboratories. A high school student was spending his summer working in Joshee’s lab on Scutellaria.

In 2021, Northside High School student Ishaan Vyas worked in the Food Engineering Laboratory under Dr. Ajit Mahapatra, an FVSU associate professor of food engineering, and Hema Degala, research assistant in food safety. Vyas learned firsthand the benefits of using pulsed ultraviolet (UV) light for food safety. His science project earned him the title of senior grand champion and additional awards in the virtual Houston Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which led to his participation in the 2021 International Science and Engineering Fair as a state representative.

The tour concluded with Perdue and Monga meeting with Jones and Fontenot.

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