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Fermentation sciences is now an accredited degree at SIU

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CARBONDALE — One of the most rapidly growing industries in Southern Illinois now may see more qualified employees coming out of its backyard with a new accredited degree at Southern Illinois University.

The Bachelor of Science degree in fermentation science was approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in March. The degree will train future brewers, vintners and distillers for possible employment in an industry that is sweeping the nation.

More importantly for Southern Illinois, this degree will provide employees for the Shawnee Wine Trail and the several micro-breweries in the region. Students at SIU will be able to engage in the major beginning this summer, said Matt McCarroll, director of Fermentation Science Institute at SIU, and professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

“This has been a lot of work by a lot of people here, and it’s great to see it becoming a reality,” he said in a news release.

The program’s home is in the McLafferty Annex Collaborative Research Facility on the west side of campus in the 74,000 square-foot, geo-thermal building.

McCarroll said the fermentation-related interest drove the need for the degree. He said while fewer than 100 breweries existed in the U.S. in the mid-1970s, there are more than 4,000 breweries today.

“The rapid growth in the craft brewing industry had led to demand from fermentation scientists with strong scientific training and coursework focused on brewing science,” McCarroll said. “We know this is a growth industry and our students will be well prepared to gain employment in this field.”

The science involves microbiology, plant biology and chemistry, as well as agricultural sciences, McCarroll said.

He said this program is pretty rare for the region, saying that the majority of programs that are similar are prevalent on the west coast, which gives SIU a bump for the industry in the region.

The McLafferty Annex building is also home to the Aquatic Research Laboratory and Saluki Aquarium. McCarroll said this 7,000 square foot research laboratory and 8,000 gallon feature aquarium will be used to raise both marine and freshwater animals for ecology, aquaculture, and conservation research and student training. Faculty and student researchers from all departments across campus will have access to dozens of replicated mesocosm environments and individual culture tanks, he said. 

There are still many more possibilities for the building, as many things are on hold because of the state budget impasse, McCarroll said. 

dustin.duncan@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

on twitter: @zd2000

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