From fundamental sciences to developed system of education of agricultural students icon

From fundamental sciences to developed system of education of agricultural students




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FROM FUNDAMENTAL SCIENCES TO DEVELOPED SYSTEM OF EDUCATION OF AGRICULTURAL STUDENTS


Professor Yuriy Posudin, Head

Department of Biophysics

National Agricultural University


Report for the Third Global Conference of GCHERA (23-24 September, 2003, Kyiv)


Environment is the physical and biotic habitat which surrounds us; that which can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. In the last two centuries, four main factors have created environmental problems – an explosive growth of population, new industrial processes, urbanization and growth of energy use. When the goal of improving environmental quality is taken to be improving human well-being, the term ”environment” broadens to include all kinds of scientific, economic, social, and cultural aspects.

That is why the main objective of agricultural education is to introduce agricultural students to the interdisciplinary study of environmental problems, their causes, control, estimation, and analysis. The fundamental sciences – physics, chemistry, biology – are the main basis of such an interdisciplinary approach. These sciences provide from the first years of studying the scientific knowledge of understanding of the environmental problems which provokes disease among a population through environmental pollution and food chain.

Let’s consider physics as example of fundamental sciences which can make it possible to develop and improve further special education of agricultural students. Physics, the most fundamental physical science, is concerned with the basic principles of the universe. The beauty of physics lies in the simplicity of the fundamentals physical theories and in the manner in which just a small number of fundamental concepts, equations, and assumptions can alter and expand our view of the world around us. A lot of physical phenomena in our word are a part of one or more of the following areas of physics such as mechanics, molecular physics, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, optics, atomic and nuclear physics.

But it you will deliver the lectures in the field of general physics for agricultural students they will be sleepy; it is necessary by all means to include in lectures the bright and intelligible examples from the student´s future speciality. For example, if you explain the term “pressure” you must mention the mechanisms of such diseases as aneurisma and trombosis for the students of Veterinary Medicine which are related to the pressure in blood vessels, osmotic and turgor pressure in plant cells for the students of Plant Science, atmospheric pressure for Environmental students. The explanation of the term ”evaporation” can be accompanied with mentioning of evaporation from animal surface for the students of Animal Science, transpiration – for the students of Plant Science, greenhouse effect – for the students of Environmental Protection and evapotranspiration - for the students of Agrochemistry and Soil Science.

That’s why we propose to implement a system of education at Bachelor and Master level. The Bachelor level includes the first-year course of general physics for agricultural students such as ”Physics with Elements of Biophysics”. Besides, the Bachelor level of education of this students provides the implementation of the next course – ”General Biophysics”. It is possible to create on the basis of knowledge of general physics a system of practical special courses by general biophysics for agricultural students such as the following:

1) ”^ Nondestructive Quality Evaluation of Agricultural Products” for the students of Quality and Safety of Agricultural Products, Animal Science, Fruit and Vegetable Growing is proposed. The main objective of this course is: definition of principal terms of nondestructive technology and nondestructive testing concept; estimation of nondestructive quality parameters of agricultural products; review of the main physical methods of nondestructive quality evaluation of agricultural products – mechanical, acoustical, electrical, optical, nuclear ones; elucidation of the current state of application of these methods in nondestructive quality evaluation of agricultural products; comparative analysis of different methods of nondestructive quality evaluation of agricultural products.

2) ”^ Environmental Biophysics” for the students of Ecology and Environmental Protection, Agrochemistry and Soil Science, Water Bioresources and Aquaculture. The main objective of this course is: description of general characteristics of biosphere and its main components - atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere; review of the basic causes of environmental disturbances which are caused by urbanization and industrialization of human society; analysis of the main abiotic and biotic factors of the environment; interaction of living organisms with surrounding and their ability to respond to the external factors; quantitative estimation of the environmental parameters such as pressure, noise, vibrations, humidity, temperature, light, electric and magnetic fields, radioactivity which affect living organisms; elucidation of the current state of measurement of environmental parameters with special emphasis on spectroscopic analysis and remote sensing of atmosphere, watersheds, soil and terrestrial vegetation.

3) ”^ Plant Biophysics” for the students of Agronomy, Plant Protection, Fruit and Vegetable Growing, Forestry, and Park-Gardening. The main objective of this course is to study physical and physico-chemical phenomena in plant objects and fundamental processes which are the basis of the system “plant-soil-atmosphere”. This course is based on the conception of heat, mass, momentum and electricity transfer in plant, plant communities and their surrounding. The special attention is paid to physical methods and instrumentation which can be used for the investigation of principal physiological processes of plant – photosynthesis, energy balance, translocation, water relations, growth and development, mineral nutrition.

4) “^ Animal Biophysics”for the students of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Science, and Water Bioresources and Aquaculture – the course which is dedicated to the studying of principal physical properties and characteristics of farm animals, the effect of various external physical factors (mechanical, acoustical, thermal, electrical, magnetic and optical ones) on the living organism and the ability of it to respond to these factors and interact with environment.

The next stage – Master Level. We propose to create and develop of system of Master´s education in the field of biophysics. A number of practical biophysical problems can be resolved by future Masters: laser control of agricultural objects, fluorescence analysis of agronomic plants, biomonitoring of environmental pollution, spectroscopic evaluation of quality of agricultural production and so on.

It is necessary to pay a serious attention also to training of agricultural students and masters in studying the principles of action of modern biophysical instrumentation – laser techniques, sonic and ulltrasonic sensing, dielectric methods, visible, NIR, and FTIR spectroscopy, fluorescence and delayed light emission, nuclear magnetic resonance, NMR imaging, electronic paramagnetic resonance, X-Ray and Gamma Ray techniques, application of stable isotopes, mass-spectrometry, chromatography, computer vision.


Such two-level (Bachelor and Master) system of education of future agricultural specialists based on knowledge of general physics, general and special biophysics must be implemented in the system of education of National Agricultural University and other universities of Ukraine.



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