Budding scientists experiment at Ag Lab

By WEEK Producer

March 21, 2013 Updated Mar 21, 2013 at 6:50 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Twenty-three year-old college student Rich Xue has left the classroom to do research at the Peoria Ag Lab.

"Its not like you're coming in here and you sit down and you listen to a professor lecture," explained Xue. "Rather, when you come in here you come to lab and then you do what you've got to do to complete a task.

Xue's task is to find ways to remove toxins from foods. He's one of a dozen students from Northeastern Illinois University spending the week at the Ag Lab.

Each is working with a research technician in hopes of encouraging a new generation of agricultural scientists. Julie Wang is supervising Xue's projects.

"When they watch and when they end up doing some experiments then I think they get interested in the subject," said Wang.

Research is what drives the Ag Lab.

Veronica Lopez is conducting experiments aimed at creating alternative fuel sources from crops. Even though she wants to be a dentist someday, Veronica says this experience in the lab is invaluable.

"I've been learning a lot. I'm actually applying some of the things that I've learned before but most of the things are new," said Lopez.

But its not just the students who benefit. Researcher Bruce Dien says the chemistry created while guiding the students helps to energize him.

"We get to share our enthusiasm for research and science with people who are also just in the beginning of their career," said Dien. "They're very excited and it adds to our excitement and gives us a greater appreciation for some of the things we do."

That's one discovery we could all make.