GrowNextGen industry leader

Melanie Prarat, MS

Researcher, Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab, ODA

Melanie does Whole Genome Sequencing analysis of bacteria and virus pathogens of animals and humans. Additionally, she is part of the research and development team that brings new assays online using different validation and verification processes. As one of the lab’s auditors, she audits different lab methods at ADDL as well as next door at the Consumer Protection Laboratory. She works with federal partners to ensure the infrastructure is in place to respond to foodborne outbreaks and develop new technologies for state diagnostic laboratories to implement.

What is the benefit of collaboration between industry and education?
Collaboration bridges the gap between textbook learning and real-world learning. A lot of young people don’t know what “agriculture” encompasses unless they talk with industry leaders or get hands-on experience. At the Ohio Department of Agriculture, we are tasked with safeguarding plants and animals, protecting consumers, and conserving resources. This is all accomplished by dedicated professionals in many different fields – Animal Science, Economics, Engineering, Finance, Information Technology, Marketing, and Veterinary Medicine, to name a few.

What value/assistance can you and your company provide to teachers and classrooms as they connect with you?
I enjoy visiting classrooms to give students an idea of what the Department of Agriculture does and what kind of advanced education they may need to pursue their career goals. I provide tours of the laboratory to anyone who is interested in seeing the work we do here everyday at the ADDL. I’ve hosted high school and college interns, working on developing capstone projects while gaining hands-on lab experience.