MARQUETTE — It’s the first undergraduate program of its kind.

Medicinal Plant Chemistry is now an option for a bachelor’s degree at Northern Michigan University. It gives students a unique chance to be pioneers in a new method of research.

“It’s targeting those students who are interested in getting involved in this very rapidly growing medicinal plant industry,” said Brandon Canfield, Associate Chemistry Professor at NMU. “There’s a lot of job opportunities, and especially within the laboratory analysis side of  that industry and that’s what this program is really focused on.”

The goal isn’t to grow, or to test the effects of certain chemicals found in plants; rather, it’s to measure those chemicals, and test how  they change when used in another product. At the helm of the experiment is a giant machine called a Liquid Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer.

It will be a much needed tool in the program.

“It’s a sophisticated instrument which we can use to analyze compounds that we extract from the plants, quantify, Identify what’s in there,”said Lesley Putman, Chemistry Professor at NMU.

The first course of the program will be open for registration in the winter semester.