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Appalachian State to offer Fermentation Degree

June 22, 2012. Appalachian State University has received permission from the UNC Board of Governors to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in fermentation sciences. The university expects to enroll students in the new degree program beginning this fall. 

“Our new fermentation sciences degree program is an innovative, interdisciplinary course of study that emphasizes the applied science and applications associated with the fermentation bioprocess,” said Dr. Anthony G. Calamai, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The degree has been modeled on the basis of a Professional Science Master’s curriculum. In that respect, students primarily study the applied science associated with fermentation and essentially minor in business studies and take courses regarding policy and ethics associated with the fermentation industries.”

The interdisciplinary degree will include coursework in advanced chemistry and biology, math, nutrition and business and builds on courses already offered in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry: wine production principles, principles of fermentation science and brewing science.

The degree will prepare students for careers in the fermented foods and beverages industry, bio-processing fields, such as fuels, and the pharmaceutical industry. 

“Students will develop the knowledge and skills to be successful in areas ranging from bio-processing of agricultural feedstocks, treatment of water and waste streams, production of biopharmaceuticals, fuels and chemicals, and craft beverage production,” said Dr. Seth Cohen, director of the fermentation sciences program. Cohen helped develop the curriculum for the program. 

“There has been a strong documented interest from students across all of these disciplines coming from outside of campus as well as currently enrolled students in science and business disciplines,” he said.

In addition to taking required courses, students will be expected to gain practical work experience through internships and research on or off campus to help understand potentials for career choices and opportunities for graduate research and studies. 

“We have already received external funding to support the degree program and its core facility, established a partnership with a waste-water treatment company that employs the fermentation process, and have resounding support from the N.C. craft beverage industries,” Calamai said. “We also have had preliminary discussions with both New Belgium and Sierra Nevada breweries regarding partnerships with Appalachian.” Earlier this year, both breweries announced plans to build facilities in the Asheville area.

Calamai said the college has a waiting list of students interested in majoring in the new degree program and is discussing a partnership with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in which students with an associate in science degree could transfer into Appalachian’s fermentation sciences program.

For more information, visit wine.appstate.edu/program.