Student Research, Entrepreneurship Boosts Windward CC Agripharmatech Program

 
 

Botany Professor Ingelia White, PhD, and the Windward Community College (WCC) Botany Club presented a ceremonial check for $4,000 to WCC Chancellor Doug Dykstra during an Agripharmatech Mahalo Reception on September 7, 2016 to help support the college’s Agripharmatech program. This is the second time the club has donated funds by selling nutraceutical products that Ethnobotanical Pharmacognosy BOT 205 students prepared from organically grown plants in the Bioprocessing Medicinal Garden Complex.

Sales from soap, salve, tea, toothpowder and a variety of other organic plant-based products give botany students the unique opportunity to promote good health, learn entrepreneurship and give back to the Agripharmatech program at WCC.

“Many of our organic nutraceutical products are now becoming hot items,” said Dr. White. “People regularly place their orders and say good things about the products.”

Word is spreading, but not through traditional advertising. Orders are made directly to Dr. White —ingelia@hawaii.edu—or to one of her student ambassadors during campus events such as the Agripharmatech Mahalo Reception, Windward Ho‘olaule‘a, where tours of the medicinal garden and bioprocessing complex take place, and off campus at Agripharmatech program sponsored events. Mainly through word-of-mouth, orders come from as far away as the neighbor islands, Alaska and Washington D.C.

Designated as the Agripharmatech fund through the UH Foundation, monies raised are used for student scholarships, research internships and student travel to scientific conferences on the mainland and internationally.

“With this money we are sending one student to present her scientific poster at the 22nd World Orchid Conference in Guayaquil, Ecuador in November 2017, said Dr. White.

“They carry Windward’s name with them to places like Singapore, South Africa and Ecuador,” added WCC Chancellor Doug Dykstra. “Besides the knowledge gained in performing pharmacognostical research, students also learn the entrepreneurial potential.”
       

Students have Promising Futures

Michael Broady is WCC’s Botany Club president and one of the Agripharmatech Student Ambassadors promoting STEM Agripharmatech concepts to middle and high school students. He likes to "wow” them with hands-on demonstrations.

“We’ve increased interest in agribiosciences by 40%, said Broady.”

Broady completed both tracks of the Certificate of Achievement in Agripharmatech and the physical science disciplines of the Natural Sciences AS degree. He will be attending UH Mānoa Tropical Plants and Soil Sciences in the fall. Broady’s dream is to be a game-changer in the emerging field of agri-ecology.

“I want to measure the environmental impact of organic agricultural plant production systems,” said Broady. “And also create and market new products from plants: shampoo using no chemicals and products using soap berry tree, awapuhi, and inch plant.”

Lia Kim is WCC’s Botany Club secretary and Agripharmatech student ambassador. She will have earned all three Agripharmatech certificates by May 2017 while a high school student at Asia Pacific International High School in Hau‘ula through the Early Admit program.

“Right now I am applying to colleges on the mainland,” said Kim. “Nowadays, I feel the new Pacific Century is requiring students to tie-in multiple fields of science and use that to develop new technologies for society. I am inspired by all that I have learned here at WCC and plan to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in science.”

Kim is doing research on the inch plant’s anti-inflammatory properties to see if it has an impact on cancer cells. Working on human kidney cells, she is testing the plant extract to see if it can stop cell growth.

Timothy Endres, originally from Texas and previously employed with the FAA, is retraining in environmental sciences and plans to move to Colorado to start an aquaculture co-op. Endres’ goal is to create a small research facility similar to the bioprocessing complex at WCC to service community colleges in Colorado. He credits Dr. White for his “broader understanding of plants.”

“Aquaponics is my zen thing to do,” said Endres. “I see the aquaculture co-op as a win-win. I can continue to learn and share what is better for mankind.”

Students learn, are inspired, and receive mentoring at WCC. According to Dean Charles Sasaki, “Outstanding students like Michael, Lia and Tim are our best proof that impactful learning is happening in Windward CC’s Agripharmatech program.” 

Students Engaged in Research

Each semester students conduct laboratory research on pharmaceutical and nutritional values of various plants in the capstone class BOT 205. The most recent plant studied was Vanda Miss Joaquim, from which students made Vanda salves, lotions, soaps, drinks, crackers, sprinkles and other food pharmacy. Research done by BOT 205 students show that the plant has antifungal properties and fair amounts of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and biotin. The findings are published in a new booklet “Ethnopharmacognosy Series V – Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Values of Vanda Miss Joaquim” produced by the college and sold at the WCC bookstore. The booklet contains research protocols and recipes of products prepared by students.

For more information about the Agripharmatech program, Vanda booklet or plant-based products, contact Inge White, PhD, at 808-236-9102 or ingelia@hawaii.edu.

PHOTOS:

Homepage/top: WCC Chancellor Doug Dykstra, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ardis Eschenberg, Dean Charles Sasaki and students in the Agripharmatech program stand with Inge White, PhD, as she signs the $4,000 ceremonial check.

Above: L-R: WCC Michael Broady, Lia Kim and Tim Endres proudly display plant-based bio-products for sale and research published in the 5th series booklet on Vanda Miss Joaquim products and recipes.

Bottom: Cover of published research booklet.

photos by Bonnie Beatson