160 High School Students Explore Biotech Futures at WPI

May 28, 2015

Hands-on event at WPI links students with biotech, life sciences, STEM careers

Biotech Futures


High School Students explored hands-on biotech lab activities at WPI during Biotech Futures, a college and career exploration event organized through the MassBioEd Foundation’s BioTeach program.





May 28, 2015 — On May 12th and 26th, 160 Massachusetts high school students participated in Biotech Futures, an event held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Biotech Futures is a college and career exploration event that exposes students to the educational opportunities and diverse fields of study in college/university science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs though campus tours and hands-on laboratory experiences.

The program, organized by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd Foundation), is part of an ongoing effort to increase interest in careers in STEM fields.

“Biotech Futures allows students to apply science and theory to the practical world while exploring university labs,” said Lance Hartford, Executive Director of the MassBioEd Foundation. “It is this blend of academic and experiential learning that provides students with the opportunity to fully grasp the wonders of science and career possibilities.”

Throughout the day, students participated in several hands-on labs led by WPI’s faculty. Among other activities, students had the opportunity to learn how fluorescent proteins can be used in screens to identify new therapeutics, discover how the brain translates sensory stimuli into behavior by working with live bees, and learn how to karyotype two sets of chromosomes.

“This was an excellent experience and we are pleased to see the level of interest and commitment among these students,” said Arne Gericke, Ph.D., the John C. Metzger Professor and head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at WPI. “The students worked hard on real projects designed to give them a glimpse of the amazing complexity of biological systems, and to open their eyes about how much remains to be discovered. Our hope is to motivate more young people to see their future in science or technology fields.”

Other WPI faculty involved in the program included: Drew R. Brodeur, Ph.D., Assistant Teaching Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, WPI; Joseph “Duff ” B. Duffy, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Department Head, Biology and Biotechnology, WPI; Robert J. Gegear Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, WPI; Dan Mardirosian, Senior Operations Manager; Kamal A. Rashad, Ph.D., Director, Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center and Research Professor, Biology & Biotechnology; Elizabeth “Liz” F. Ryder, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, WPI; Jagan Srinivasan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, WPI.

Participating schools included:

May 12

  • Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School
  • David Prouty High School
  • Sturgis Charter Public School
  • Worcester Technical School

May 26

  • Central High School (Springfield)
  • Hampshire Regional High School
  • South High School (Worcester)



About MassBioEd Foundation


The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd Foundation), founded in 2001, is a nonprofit charitable organization committed to supporting science and biotechnology education in Massachusetts through school programs, workforce training, and lifelong learning. Serving as a link between education, industry, and government, MassBioEd is working to ensure Massachusetts’ biotechnology sector has an appropriately trained workforce to meet growing employment needs. MassBioEd’s BioTeach program provides professional development to hundreds of teachers in their biotechnology curricula and provides grants and lab equipment to 204 schools across the Commonwealth. In addition, MassBioEd’s Biotech Learning Center offers professional development courses for employees in the biotechnology sector to advance their professional skills.


About Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nation’s first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 40 WPI project centers in the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.



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