Internship strengthens Penn State's ongoing relationships in China

November 06, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new summer internship, which will be available to undergraduate students with a veterinary research interest, is the most recent in a series of collaborations spanning a century-old partnership between Penn State and South China Agricultural University.

The veterinary research program will be led by Huaguang Lu, a clinical professor in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and avian virologist at Penn State's Animal Diagnostic Lab. Students in the program will travel for five to six weeks over the summer to South China Agricultural University (SCAU) in Guangdong and participate in research at Guangxi Veterinary Research Institute (GVRI) in Guangxi.

Since 2014, Lu has collaborated with GVRI to host an international summer internship program to provide students with the opportunity to explore and gain international experience related to their professional career development, as well as experience in conducting independent studies and assignments in animal disease research and investigation, diagnostic development, and disease control strategies. Beginning in the summer of 2018, he also will administer a course in laboratory diagnostics for emerging and highly pathogenic animal viral diseases at SCAU.

The course will teach students about the new and important animal diseases currently affecting animal industries. Expanding the program to include courses at SCAU is an opportunity for Chinese and American students to learn more about the different challenges and advantages each country faces with regard to veterinary studies, Lu explained.

"When I travel to China I'm able to demonstrate to students and other veterinary researchers there some of the latest laboratory technology and techniques. On the other hand, as scientists and research collaborators, we are able to see the different problems and situations that are present in China — for example, the fact that they have a huge amount of poultry production on such a large scale leads to newly-emerging poultry disease problems that we do not see in the United States."

GVRI students visit poultry farm

Students who participated in a 2017 research internship at Guangxi Veterinary Research Institute in Guangxi, China, visited a poultry farm to learn about the country's poultry production.

IMAGE: Huaguang Lu

"It's an experience that some of these students may never have had without this internship," he noted. "They're able to learn, not only in the classroom and the laboratory, but also get cultural exposure that they'll never forget."

"This was my first real laboratory experience and I learned many valuable techniques that I did not know before," said Gabrielle Winger, an animal science major with minors in avian science and biology who participated in the research program at GVRI during the summer of 2017. "I also achieved a greater cultural awareness for China. I know that my experience there will help to guide my future decisions and further my goal of becoming a poultry veterinarian."

George Weidman Groff

 "Daddy" Groff, as he was nicknamed, was a horticulturalist, botanist and Penn State professor who helped to establish the University's first exchanges with China.

IMAGE: Penn State University Libraries Special Collections

The connection between Penn State and China dates back more than a century and represents the oldest link between an American and Chinese University. It began in 1907, when George "Daddy" Groff, traveled to Canton Christian College in Lingnan, China, to research the country's vegetable plants, citrus crops and litchi trees. Groff, a horticulturalist and botanist and eventual Penn State professor, helped to establish the Penn-State-to-China program in 1911 and continued to facilitate exchanges of students, research techniques and plants there until the 1940s.

Groff's work contributed to the foundation of SCAU, and the two institutions collaborated in agricultural research and exchanged students until the onset of World War II, during which the collaboration was suspended and did not resume until 1980, when it was renewed with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2007, SCAU and Penn State celebrated 100 years of collaboration with renewal of the original agreement and the signing of a joint laboratory agreement for soybean research.

Students majoring in veterinary and biomedical sciences, animal science or other qualifying courses of pre-veterinary study, who wish to be considered for the SCAU/GVRI internship, should contact Lu directly at 814-863-4369 or

  • Huaguang Lu

    Dr. Huaguang Lu is a clinical professor and avian virologist in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, as well as section head of avian virology at Penn State's Animal Diagnostic Lab.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 06, 2017