- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Two highly talented and enthusiastic university students from Brazil have joined the Walter Leal lab in the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, as part of a unique and growing international agricultural exchange program.
The program is known as SUSPROT.
SUSPROT? That's the Sustainable Crop Protection in Agriculture Program, a federally funded program designed to promote scientific cooperation and collaborative education between academic and professional communities in Europe (Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands) and the United States.
And now Brazil.
Aline Guidolin (top right) and Diogo Vidal (bottom left) arrived Sept. 14 to work three months with Leal, a noted chemical ecologist and professor of entomology, and with several other researchers in the lab.
Vidal is working with pheromone binding proteins and isolation and identification of pheromones, and Guidolin, gene silencing of pheromone-binding proteins.
“This year we’ve been able to extend SUSPROT into Brazil,” said Brazilian-born Leal, who serves as the UC Davis coordinator of SUSPROT. The organization is headquartered at Pennsylvania State University.
All universities participating in SUSPROT were selected for their strong agricultural programs. “It’s a global agricultural industry now, and we need to know how to research the problems and how to solve them,” Leal said. “We need to learn from one another.”The Brazilian students, both pursuing their bachelor of science degrees, will receive university credit for their work here. Vidal, 22, is majoring in chemistry at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, and Guidolin, 23, is majoring in biological sciences at the University of Sao Paulo, Piracicaba. “They are very enthusiastic,” said Leal. “In fact, the same day they arrived, Aline wanted to start the experiments. And when I left the lab Wednesday night (Sept. 16), I thought I was the last one to leave the lab. I was wrong. They were both still here.”
The two young scientists will join the Leal family for Thanksgiving dinner. You can bet that the turkey will be just one of the main attractions. Expect lively conversations on pheromone-binding proteins and gene silencing.
In multiple languages.
Leal and his wife Beatrix were both born in Brazil and lived in Japan before relocating to Davis. They speak Portuguese, English and Japanese. Their children are also multilingual. Sons Augusto, 18 (now studying at Princeton) and Gabriel, 12, were both in Japan, and daughter Helena, 9, in the United States.
Meanwhile, Walter Leal is gearing up for the SUSPROT exchange trip to Brazil next July. He will accompany a group of UC Davis and Penn State students.
The team “will be exposed to the agricultural or entomology side, the industrial side and the production side,” said Leal. “We can learn a lot from Brazil. Brazil is known for its ethanol production and is the world’s biofuel industry leader, while the U.S. is still in its infancy. Brazil is the leading soybean producer."
As Leal said, it's "a global agricultural industry now, and we need to know how to research the problems and how to solve them.”
Cooperation, collaboration and commitment.