The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may have lost to Kansas in the NCAA men’s basketball final last night, but Tar Heels everywhere can take small comfort in the fact their school in helping to prepare future competitors in an altogether different game: the cellular agriculture revolution.
That’s because this quarter UNC-Chapel Hill has launched one of the country’s first classes focused exclusively on cellular agriculture.
The class was developed in partnership with students from the Chapel Hill Alt Protein Project, a student organization developed with the support of the Good Food Institute. The group worked with three UNC Chapel Hill professors to develop and launch the course over the past year. The class was designed with the goal of creating a pipeline for new talent in the North Carolina market for this rapidly growing industry.
Sophia Retchin, a student at UNC-CH and cofounder of The Chapel Hill Alt Protein Project, was driven to help create the class because she was frustrated that none of her classes addressed the topic and its importance in solving the world’s environmental problems.
“Incorporating alternative protein education into universities is extremely important because if our professors are not teaching students about this amazing field, then how are we going to fuel it with amazing talent?.” Retchin said in a post about the course.
The class, which was full after the first day of registration, started in January and included lectures on scaffolding, molecular farming, cell line, and cell culture development. Guest lecturers include a number of founders from some of the well-known names in the space, including Stephanie Michelsen of Jellatech, Michelle Egger of Biomilq and Fayaz Khasi of Elo Life.
UNC-CH follows other universities that are starting to pioneer new courses focused on alternative proteins and cellular agriculture. In the US, Tufts has been teaching about cellag for a couple years and recently received a large grant to develop a cultivated protein center of excellence. Universities in Singapore and Israel have also developed courses to teach students about this new field.