Dr Grau speaking
Dr Grau speaking
Dr Grau speaking
SJR State’s “visiting professor” lecture delves into science, ethics

Science and health care students on the Palatka campus welcomed the College’s first participant in the new “visiting professor” series, a program created by the SJR State science department to give students substantial exposure and insight into an array of topics vital to their majors.

Oscar Grau, Ph.D., a molecular biochemist and microbiologist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, engaged students this semester in a discussion on bioethics in biotechnology. Topics ranged from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and biological warfare to mitochondrial DNA, or three-parent babies.

According to SJR State Professor Kim Van Vliet, bringing in working professionals who possess advanced knowledge in a particular subject not only enriches and broadens the students’ understanding and experience, it also helps them understand our interconnected, globalized world.

Students and faculty deliberated their concerns regarding where scientists and society should draw the line on biological advancements. “Just because scientists are capable of miraculous interventions within our human genome, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be altering it,” Van Vliet said. “Benefits must always be weighed against the long-term risks and effects of the intervention.”

SJR State Dean of Arts and Sciences Laura Boilini, Ph.D., said the series is a valuable undertaking for the College. “I believe that as educators, we have a responsibility to our students to open doorways of learning for them. Providing the opportunity to hear varied viewpoints on global issues creates an atmosphere of inquiry,” Boilini said. “When we engage as a college in these kinds of activities, we show our students that we value their sense of curiosity and we strive to foster their development and growth.”

Dr. Grau is a professor emeritus at the University of La Plata in Argentina and a member of the Latin American Academy of Science. He is an advisor to the Pan-American Health Organization and has served in transcription control of bacteriophage at the University of Chicago.

His extensive career also includes serving as a guest scientist at the biologic facilities at Fort Detrick, Maryland, a U.S. Army command known for its biomedical research and development, as well as the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York, a lab run by the Department of Homeland Security, which serves as the nation’s premier defense against accidental or intentional introduction of foreign animal disease.  



Oscar Grau, Ph.D., a molecular biochemist and microbiologist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, engages science and health care students at St. Johns River State College in a discussion on bioethics in biotechnology. Grau is the first guest lecturer in the College’s new “visiting professor” series.