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Hometown Farmer - Turnip Research

HTF - Briar Cliff Turnip Research

"There are things here, in our back yard, that might be game-changers in some ways," said Dr. Paul Weber, a Professor at Briar Cliff University.

"It was shocking to me, this is so weird," said Dr. Daniel Jung, an Assistant Professor. "Why?"

Those two are talking about the prairie turnip.

"Is it safe?" asked Dr. Jung. "We don't know that yet."

We do know they're safe to eat, because certain Native American tribes have been eating them for centuries.

"Lewis & Clark said this could replace the potato," said Dr. Weber. "But that never caught on because it's a little difficult to grow."

But these two doctors aren't chowing down.

"Each one of these little dots is actually a growth of the staphylococcus aureus," said Dr. Jung.

They're studying the turnip for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Right now, the turnip is being tested against staphylococcus aureus, which causes staph infection.

So far, the results are promising.

"Fewer dots, that means there's fewer bacteria," said Dr. Jung, pointing out the results of the experiments.

Briar Cliff students are helping with the research, like sophomore Abby Furlich.

"What I've noticed, and we've all noticed, is using the extract does inhibit the growth of staphylococcus aureus," said Furlich.

Olivia Matz helps out, too.

"I love the consistent results," said Matz, a sophomore. "Being able to see the results every week."

The research is promising, so far the turnips are stopping the staph.

But, years of research could be needed yet.

"We need to do all these baby steps to get to some kind of medical advances later," said Dr. Jung.

The advances could be things like creams that could help burn victims.

For now, though, the students who are helping out are happy to get real-world experiment experience and be a part of what could be a medical breakthrough.

"I think it would be sweet to say that I was involved in something like that," said Matz. "To be able to say I took part in the beginning steps of what this could turn out to be."

And it's all because of a little turnip.

"It's really cool that it's something we can get from our prairie at school," said Furlich.

The turnips grow, naturally, right next to Briar Cliff University.

If you think of a farmer that might be great on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please tell us about them!

Email Jake at: jheller@siouxlandnews.com.

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