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Rheonix pledges to support BTI Education and Outreach program

Caren Baldini and Greg Galvin of Rheonix receive a signed photo of the 15th class of BTI summer interns

Caren Baldini and Greg Galvin of Rheonix receive a signed photo of the 15th class of BTI summer interns from President David Stern and Director of Education and Outreach Tiffany Fleming.

Rheonix, an Ithaca-based company founded by Greg Galvin, has made a gift of $30,000 to the Boyce Thompson Institute to support its Education and Outreach program.

The company has pledged $10,000 per year for the next three years to sponsor BTI’s education programs with teachers and students. These programs share BTI’s cutting-edge research with about 250 teachers nationwide each year, through plant science lab activities provided to classrooms and on-site teacher institutes and workshops. About 30 undergraduate and high school students spend their summer at BTI each year, where they get a hands-on lab experience, training in bioinformatics and exposure to careers in plant research. These programs exist through the participation of BTI researchers throughout the institute and the support of generous donors like Rheonix.

“I think they’re doing a great job of it,” Galvin said of the Education and Outreach group.

Galvin has served as a member of BTI’s Board of Directors for 13 years. For the previous two years, he sponsored the annual Plant Genome Research Program Student Symposium, which enables students to communicate the results of their summer projects by giving talks and presenting posters to the BTI community.

“We’re very appreciative of their support,” said Director of Education Tiffany Fleming. “Rheonix’s gift is generous and will be put to good use across all of our student programs. Also, Greg is a really great as a member of the BTI Board, in terms of giving feedback and being an advocate of the programs. This gift will enable our programs to continue to grow.”

Through sponsorships from businesses and individuals, Fleming hopes to expand the reach of these programs through the involvement of BTI researchers and the use of a web portal that will enable scientists to interact with classrooms nationwide, and with students and teachers from diverse backgrounds.

“There’s an interest in the public in participating in our science and we can’t easily do that with everyone on a case-by-case basis,” said Fleming. By establishing a digital platform, Fleming hopes to foster even greater teacher involvement and reach out to students who might not otherwise be exposed to the opportunities and careers in science.

Rheonix has a history of supporting local high quality science activities for students, to encourage youth to pursue careers in technology and engineering. Galvin founded Rheonix in 2008 and the company develops “lab-on-a-chip” systems that use microfluidics technology for medical and food safety testing.

“Agriculture is an area we don’t tend to think of when we think of high-tech and entrepreneurship but it’s absolutely there and alive and well,” said Galvin. “On the global stage of solving problems and feeding the world, it’s obviously hugely important.

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