Expanding Hands-On Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Experience for Diverse Student Populations

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Project Updates: 

Project Description:

This project aims to promote awareness of Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing career pathways for diverse, underrepresented community college and high school students. The BioSCOPE (Bioscience Supply Chain Operations Projects for Education) model provides students with project-based activities to learn about biomanufacturing and gain hands-on, industry-relevant skills by producing laboratory reagents and consumables compliant with industry quality standards and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). Products are typically components of laboratory kits that are packaged and distributed to high schools for use by biology and biotechnology students. This is important because connections established between community colleges and high schools create awareness and pathways for students from high schools to enter community college bioscience courses and programs. The project provides students with hands-on experience that prepares them for entry-level employment in livable-wage jobs with upward mobility. Fear of science is a barrier for many students, including those who are underserved and underrepresented in their participation in the pursuit of such careers, as many falsely believe a career in life sciences requires an advanced degree. BioSCOPE removes this barrier and helps students that like to work with their hands by giving them experience that introduces them to opportunities for a rewarding career in life sciences. These student populations benefit by entering rewarding, high-paying careers, and industry benefits by gaining an inclusive, diverse, and skilled workforce.

This project is a collaboration between the Bioscience Workforce Development Hub at MiraCosta College, the Bay Area Bioscience Education Community (BABEC), and Laney College, and includes partners throughout California from community colleges, the Bioscience industry, state industry trade associations, workforce development organizations, and related NSF ATE project PIs. The project specifically aims to train community college biotechnology faculty to equitably implement BioSCOPE activities, create a pipeline for enrollment in biotechnology at community colleges by increasing awareness and providing hands-on experience in biotechnology through doing BioSCOPE activities, and provide mentorship to prepare diverse, underrepresented community college students for careers in Biomanufacturing. These students are often not aware of Biotech or of the accessible high-wage careers Biotech can provide that suit their interests, talents, and skills. The project personnel aim to learn if the project builds awareness of Biotech, whether it bolsters a pipeline of students into community college Biotech programs, and how it impacts students getting industry internships and jobs. Participating community college faculty will be surveyed to track the frequency of BioSCOPE activities implemented, the number of students that participate in BioSCOPE, who continues on to industry internships or jobs, and the number of students that enroll in community college Biotech courses from partner high schools. By expanding knowledge and understanding of Biotech and Biomanufacturing among a diverse population of historically underserved students, the project aims to prepare them for growth and innovation within an industry that provides solutions for many global challenges that impact both health and environmental issues. The findings of this work will be disseminated in California and nationally through websites, social media, in-person and virtual trainings, state and national presentations at conferences and industry advisory meetings.

Project PI: 
Terri Quenzer, PhD (PI, MiraCosta College, Bioscience Workforce Development Hub)
Host Organization: MiraCosta College
Collaborating organizations: 
Other Collaborators: 
Ying-Tsu Loh, PhD (Co-PI, BABEC) Emily Quach (Co-PI, Laney College)
Grant number: DUE 2300800
Project Contact Info: 
MiraCosta College Oceanside CA