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April 7, 2004


    OSWEGO -- The recent state approval for SUNY Oswego to offer a bachelor's degree in biochemistry aims to make both the college and its students more marketable in the future.

    While Oswego already had a track in biochemistry, the upgrade to a full major will offer many benefits, explained Dr. Kestas Bendinskas, an assistant professor of chemistry who played a part in developing the major. The college was able to have the request fast-tracked because its requirements are already more stringent than what American Chemical Society accreditation requires, he said.

    "It's a very good major for people who want to go into the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry or biotechnology," Bendinskas said. Making biochemistry a full major will benefit students looking for employment in this growing field, he added.

    "There are 10 students in the track. When we received the news that this was approved, they high-fived in my classroom," Bendinskas said. "That was the biggest reward for me, knowing that the students were happy."

    Three students -- Dawn Harle, Matthew Jones and Jennifer Novak -- will graduate in May with the new degree because they will meet the requirements. Having the degree in biochemistry "is going to look so much better than just being a chemistry major with a biochemistry track," said Harle, who hails from Schuylkill Haven, Pa.

    Jones will take his degree to a position as a research scientist for the New York State Department of Health Arbovirus Laboratory near his native Albany. "I started there from an internship. From the work I did there, they wanted me full time when I graduated," he said.

    Novak, of Rotterdam, said she has always had in interest in health care because her mother is a registered nurse. "When I found out Oswego offered biochemistry on top of forensic studies, it was a natural appeal to me," she said, adding that graduating with the new biochemistry degree was a bonus.

    "This hopefully will serve as a factor in attracting students stronger in science to Oswego," Bendinskas said. "If students see the need in it, and we fulfill that need, that is the best thing we can do."

    Dan Griffin, associate director of admissions at SUNY Oswego, confirmed that many prospective students have asked if the college offers a biochemistry major, reflecting a rising interest in the field.

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Biochemistry students at work in Snygg Hall

MIXING IT UP -- Jennifer Novak, left, Matthew Jones and Dawn Harle will become the first SUNY Oswego students to graduate with a degree in biochemistry in May. The college recently received approval from the state to make biochemistry a full undergraduate degree program. It was previously a track within the chemistry major.

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