Bioscience Grad Creates Fish Vaccine for Department of Natural Resources

Bioscience student creates fish vaccine for Department of Natural ResourcesGwinnett Technical College bioscience graduate Jenny Hedges knows from experience that education can make a difference. Hedges used skills she learned in the classroom at Gwinnett Tech to help the Department of Natural Resources manufacture a vaccine to keep thousands of fish free of disease.

Hedges knew she wanted to work with fish from the moment she enrolled in the program. But it was up to her to figure out exactly how to take her education from the lab to the water. And that’s exactly what she did.

Thanks to some strong initiative and a chance encounter with the DNR’s chief of fisheries, Hedges found her way into an internship at the agency’s Buford Trout Hatchery. There, thousands of rainbow trout are raised each year to be released into public fishing waters.

While working at the hatchery, Hedges learned to manufacture a vaccine in the Gwinnett Tech labs to guard the fish against enteric red mouth, a disease with the potential to wipe out the hatchery’s entire population.

Biosciences program director Dr. Philip Gibson says Hedges is a great example of how students don’t have to wait until they graduate to gain experience in the field.

“What we’re always pushing is this idea of relevant knowledge,” Gibson says. “Relevant knowledge is knowledge that can be gained by doing real world projects now.”

Hedges went on to earn her associate degree in Bioscience Technology from Gwinnett Tech. But even after graduation, she continues to make vaccine for the hatchery, saving the taxpayers money and expanding her knowledge in the field.

Now Hedges works for Gwinnett Tech in the bioscience department and also mentors high school students on the many opportunities that come with careers in bioscience. She uses her experience to help encourage budding scientists to follow their passions, wherever they may lead.

“Anything that you want is available within bioscience and ultimately at Gwinnett Tech,” she says.

Hedges says the employment opportunities that come with degrees in bioscience are wide open, ranging from jobs in the pharmaceutical industry to scientific research facilities and of course working with animals including fish.

GTC TV has this look at her story. For more information about the bioscience program at Gwinnett Tech, call 770-926-7580 or visit online.

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