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SDSU approved for biochemistry PhD

BROOKINGS, SD (KELO-AM) The South Dakota Board of Regents recently approved South Dakota State University's request to offer a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry. Since 2005, the university has offered a biochemistry track within its doctoral program in chemistry, but officials say it has been more difficult to recruit students to a chemistry program, who want a biochemistry degree. The new Ph.D. degree should solve that problem, and make it easier to recruit both students and faculty.

South Dakota's job growth in the biosciences is outpacing the nation. The state's economic development officials have identified biosciences as a targeted sector for job development and the growing biosciences industry offers a range of new opportunities for graduates.In South Dakota, the number of bioscience employers has grown 55 percent between 2001 and 2009, with an employment growth rate of 42 percent and the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs. By 2018, a 12 percent increase in new jobs is projected in the South Dakota biosciences industry, with 10 percent of those requiring a doctoral degree.The new degree program is effective immediately. Since a majority of the biochemistry curriculum is already in place at SDSU, only a few new courses needed to be added. There were eight Ph.D. students in the biochemistry track last spring. University officials expect to attract 11 students, either new to SDSU or from other university programs, into the new degree program in its first year."The impacts of the new Ph.D. program in biochemistry will be substantial not only to the state, but also to the chemistry and biochemistry department and SDSU," College of Arts and Sciences dean Dennis Papini said. "As the biochemistry Ph.D. program is advertised, highly qualified graduate students will be recruited into the department, leading to an expansion of research output. Postdoctoral fellows and research scientists with interests in biochemistry will come to SDSU for advanced training in bioscience. In the future, new faculty positions may be created to support the expected growth in the department thanks to the new Ph.D. program, which in turn will expand the department's ability to engage undergraduate biochemistry students. Taken together, these impacts of the new Ph.D. program will affect persons from all educational and business sectors within the state, the region and the nation."Papini said the number of students entering baccalaureate training in biochemistry has grown exponentially since a bachelor's degree in biochemistry started seven years ago."With the potential growth that a nationally recognized Ph.D. program in biochemistry will bring, the department will enhance recruitment and engagement of young scientists in training," Papini said. "The two programs will work synergistically to produce highly qualified, workforce ready scientists to support the university, the state and the nation."