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WHISKEY MAKING 101: Motlow joins MTSU, Columbia State in $300K USDA fermentation science grant

Motlow State Chemistry Instructor Nathan Fisher will lead the fermentation science partnership with MTSU and Columbia State. A $300,000 USDA grant will fund the project. {Photo Provided}

EDUCATION | Motlow State is located in Lynchburg – the unofficial whiskey capitol of the world – and right in the heart of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. So, it only makes sense that they’d be the perfect educational partner for a fermentation science programs.

The USDA just awarded a $300,000 grant to Motlow, MTSU, and Columbia State with an eye toward attracting future agricultural students to the Fermentation Science Program, according to a recent press release.

It’s a three-year, $300,000 grant proposed by MTSU’s Tony Johnston, who is partnering with Motlow Chemistry Instructor Nathan Fisher and Columbia State’s Karen Kendall-Fite, with faculty from all three schools participating.

“Our collaboration in this grant award is part of a larger, long-term vision. We are very intentional about our plan to introduce a variety of Fermentation and Distillery Science learning opportunities,” said Motlow President Dr. Michael Torrence. “Our vision includes broadening short-term certificate training opportunities, as well as the development of new degree programs. Those programs will specifically seek to cultivate the success of minority and underserved populations in these fields.”

The grant increases awareness of agriculture and introduces fermentation concepts into lower-division undergraduate math and science classes at Columbia State and Motlow, and drives fermentation science as a career option.

“Students, in general, aren’t aware of what fermentation science is, much less that it’s agricultural,” said Johnston, professor, and director of the MTSU Fermentation Science program. “The grant seeks to get more students interested in agriculture as a career.

 “Agriculture is an applied STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field, but it is not traditionally viewed this way,” Johnston said. “The grant provides an opportunity to connect the dots between STEM courses and agriculture and raise awareness of and increase the potential for a student to become interested in the applied STEM career that is fermentation science.”

Johnston said part of the grant would go toward classroom equipment — smartphones and scientific equipment — for Motlow and Columbia State students to learn about chemistry, biology, and math through applications of Fermentation in their freshmen- and sophomore-level courses. The funds will also pay for faculty training.

For more information about this exciting new opportunity, contact Nathan Fisher, Motlow Chemistry Professor, at 615-220-7879 or nfisher@mscc.edu. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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