I'd like to pass on kudos to several of my colleagues at SAFC Biosciences who have volunteeered to participate in the Shawnee Mission West Signature Progams in Biotechnology. In particular, I need to do a shout out for Lynn Davis - one of our Senior Scientists with an extensive background in cell engineering and mammalian cell culture at bioreactor scale.
Lynn has been a lead participant in the program since September 2008. The program is geared toward high school students from grade 10-12 and is designed to expose/begin early preparation for students to career options in biotechnology. Students learn not only about career options, but educational requirements, current trends, and legal responsibilities (is this available for some of our industry CEOs?) through research and guest speakers (like Lynn).
Students learn hands on research skills and techniques through doing an original research project and by onsite experiences at area biotechnology companies. At SAFC for example, we allow students to "job shadow" over the course of four 2hr sessions in a calendar year. The students can learn to make media and aseptic technique, how to passage cells, and are afforded the opportunity to tour our large scale continuous milling manufacturing area.
Other students have learned how to do PCR reactions, assemble bioreactors, sample bioreactors, and put that aseptic technique to the the test. Our current students are bringing cells out of thaw, passaging cells and plotting growth curves. Soon they will be learning to measure IgG levels produced from these cultures on a Fortebio instrument. These students have also toured the QC labs in addition to the milling manfacturing areas.
Students in their own research are doing things like extracting DNA from various cereal grains and examining their GMO status. The program has been very successful. It has grown from 11 students in its inception to 30 for next year.
We're proud to have someone like Lynn on our staff - as well as other team members including Chad Stewart, Brenda Hogan, Barb Martinez, Sandy McNorton and a number of our Cell Sciences and Development group, Rebecca Ball and Katie Hernandez.
It's a pleasure having colleagues who make it their business to give back to education and through whose efforts we are able to provide some "real world" experience and perspective to students who are interested in pursuing careers in biotechnology. It is a great program and it benefits our Staff just as much as the Students who participate - and we're glad we do!
If you want to check out more information - www.smsd.org/students/signature.htm