200 High School Students Explore Biotech Futures at WPI

May 31, 2016

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

May 31, 2016 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — On Wednesday, May 25th and Thursday, May 26th, 200 Massachusetts high school students participated in Biotech Futures, an event held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and organized by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd).

Biotech Futures is a college and career exploration event that exposes students to the educational opportunities and diverse fields of study in the life sciences at the college level though hands-on laboratory experiences and campus tours. Biotech Futures is a component of MassBioEd’s BioTeach program, which provides lab-based training in biotechnology to 150 public high school science teachers annually.

“At Biotech Futures, students see the connection between their BioTeach-inspired lab experiences and exciting collegiate level science and engineering programs,” said Peter Abair, Executive Director of MassBioEd. “The involvement of faculty and graduate students who share their research and career pathways often makes these experiences transformative for the participating students. These students were very engaged and are a credit to their high schools and communities.”

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 detect antibiotic resistance by measuring bacterial growth.

“The 21st century has been coined the ‘Century of Biology’ because of the promise of the life sciences to contribute to the many needs facing the US and world, including improved health, energy, food, and the environment,” said Joseph Duffy, PhD, associate professor and department head of biology and biotechnology, and associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “The Biotech Futures program is a wonderful opportunity to show high school students—in a hands-on way and by exposing them to the joy of discovery in research labs—that they can contribute to addressing these global issues through the life sciences.”

Other WPI faculty involved in the program included: Mia Dubrosarsky, Director of Professional Development, STEM Education Center, WPI; Arne Gericke, PhD, professor and department head, chemistry and biochemistry, WPI, who gave opening remarks; Robert J. Gegear Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, WPI; Dan Mardirosian, Senior Operations Manager of the Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC) at WPI; Kristin Benoit Picard, instructor and Curriculum Coordinator, BETC; Kamal Rashid, PhD, Director of the BETC and research professor of biology and biotechnology; Elizabeth F. Ryder, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, WPI; Scarlet Shell, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biology & Biotechnology, WPI; Jagan Srinivasan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology and Biotechnology, WPI; and WPI students Ann-Marie Bryant and Jim McIsaac.

Participating schools included:

May 25

  • Ludlow High School
  • Northbridge High School
  • Revere High School

May 26

  • Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School
  • Palmer High School
  • Shepard Hill Regional High School

Biotech Futures, part of MassBioEd’s signature BioTeach program, aims to increase students’ interest in pursuing further study and careers in the life sciences. Through BioTeach, MassBioEd provides teacher professional development workshops and mentoring, student experiential learning and career exploration opportunities, and funds to public schools for lab supplies and equipment.


About the MassBioEd Foundation


The MassBioEd Foundation (MassBioEd), engages teachers, inspires students, and guides the life sciences workforce. A 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, MassBioEd is focused on growing educational capacity in the life sciences. Through its BioTeach program, MassBioEd provides teacher professional development workshops and mentoring, student experiential learning and career exploration opportunities, and funds to public schools for lab supplies and equipment. MassBioEd also provides analysis of job trends in the industry to guide students, educators, and industry. 

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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