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Fulbright attorney earns biotech degree from College of Law

May 04, 2010

At home in the Philippines, Sheila Besario prosecutes defendants in rape and domestic violence cases, teaches law at her alma mater and is busy raising a 2-year-old son. But this academic year, Besario is a Fulbright Foreign Student Grantee, earning a Master of Laws in biotechnology and genomics at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

“I wanted to get an LL.M. in the United States, and I was looking for a program that best suited my chemistry and law degrees,” said Besario, who was trained at Silliman University in Dumaguete City, the capital of Negros Oriental. “ASU was my first choice because it was the best blend of the two, a cutting edge program in science and law, molded into one.”

Besario, who arrived in the United States for the first time last July, took two semesters of courses at the College of Law which, through its Center for Law, Science & Innovation, offers the only LL.M. in biotechnology and genomics in the country. They included courses in Genetics and the Law; Scientific Evidence; Law, Science & Technology; Patent Litigation; Criminal Procedure; and a Fact Investigation Seminar.

“There were a lot of courses, and I had a lot of flexibility in my schedule,” she said. “I was able to tailor it to my interests and what I wanted to learn.”

Along the way, she visited a crime lab in Mesa, toured the evidence lock-up room at the Phoenix Police Department, and wrote more papers and took fewer exams that she was accustomed to. During breaks from studying American jurisprudence, she Skyped with husband, Jake, and son, Ethan.

Besario plans to incorporate her new knowledge into her teaching and help build a crime lab at the Dr. Jovito R. Salonga Center for Law and Development at Silliman University, where she will return after the College of Law’s convocation on May 14. In the Philippines, where the use of DNA evidence is not prevalent, she hopes to raise its familiarity and use.

Written by Janie Magruder