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2015 Biotech Academy participants pose with Beaker, the program mascot, in front of HudsonAlpha.

HudsonAlpha’s Biotech Academy, now in its fourth year, is recognizing the achievements of its graduates this year and adjusting its nomination process to include five new area high schools.

This spring, HudsonAlpha will present plaques to each of the high schools whose students have attended the academy. Academy graduates’ names will be engraved on the plaques to recognize the students achievement in completing the program and the plaques will be displayed in the high schools.

In the past, the program was offered to students from public high schools in the area. This year, however, nominations will be accepted from five additional private schools, bringing the total number of eligible schools up to 18. The new schools were chosen based on enrollment, and the additional students maximize facility and staffing capacity at HudsonAlpha.

“There’s a strong demand from promising students in the area to provide an in-depth biology and biotech training experience,” said Michele Morris, the workforce development lead in Educational Outreach. “We’re excited to expand the program to meet that demand and include five new schools.

Academy graduates gain new skills, build strong relationships with peers

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Michele Morris assists a Biotech Academy participant with a lab exercise.

The Biotech Academy is a four-week summer learning experience for high school students. It is designed to provide a strong foundation in research lab skills as well as an introduction to the latest discoveries in genetics, genomics and biotechnology.

At the academy, students learn basic molecular biology techniques; discover how to identify plant and animal species based on their DNA sequence; study the concepts of genetic engineering by producing and purifying red fluorescent protein; and delve into the emerging field of synthetic biology. Additionally, academy participants visit research labs and associate companies at the Institute to explore the various careers and professions available in the field of biotechnology, exposing them to world-class scientists and cutting-edge technology.

Student presentations of work to participants’ families, teachers and friends at an Open Lab and reception conclude the Biotech Academy.

After completing the program, one student said, “The thing I liked best about Biotech Academy is the diverse lab experience and wide range of experiments that we were able to do.  The instructors explained each lab well, and I feel this experience has prepared me for future lab work.”

But graduates say the academy provides more than valuable academic knowledge and career skills. Participants in the academy build life-long friendships with students from other schools in the area who have similar interests.

“I’m impressed every year that students come in from very different backgrounds and with very different career goals and still they quickly bond and become a cohesive group that supports each other through the lab and problem solving activities in the program,” Morris said.

Nominations for Biotech Academy open now

To attend Biotech Academy, students must be nominated by their school’s science department. While the cost per student for the program is $1,500, a generous donation from Jean Wessel Templeton provides this opportunity at no cost for each student who attends the academy.

If you are an eligible student interested in being nominated to represent your school at the 2016 HudsonAlpha Biotech Academy, please talk with your life science teacher and express your interest in being nominated. Teacher nominations are being accepted now through March 4.

To learn more about Biotech Academy and see a list of eligible schools, visit hudsonalpha.org/biotech-academy.

 

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