Harford Community College hosted fifteen local high school students for its innovative, grant supported BIOTECH Pathways Summer Institute July 31-August 4, 2023. The students were recruited via outreach BIOTECH Pathways Workshops that included their family members. The Summer Institute was open to all 2022-23 high school students (including new graduates) who had taken at least one high school biology course.
The program offered hands-on laboratory experiences in cutting-edge techniques including synthetic biology and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR). CRISPR is a gene-editing technology with promising applications in biomedicine and agriculture. Through their use, students gained both biotechnology skills and a more holistic understanding of potential biotechnology career opportunities. Guest speakers throughout the week included Dr. James Dillman III, Chief Science Officer at U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense; and Mr. Viet Dang, Microbiologist and Quality Control Supervisor at Adaptive Phage Therapeutics. On the final day of the program, students conducted poster presentations summarizing their week’s project to parents and local biotechnology experts, some of whom are members of the advisory board for the program.
Dr. Pamela Pape-Lindstrom, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs; Jaclyn Madden, Associate Professor of Biology and Biotechnology; Breonna Martin, Assistant Professor of Biology; and Dr. Susan Walker, Associate Professor of Biology, are members of Harford Community College’s Biotechnology team that was responsible for the Summer Institute.
BIOTECH Pathways is supported through a $493,912 grant (Grant No. 2000193, Jaclyn Madden, Principal Investigator) from the National Science Foundation and was developed to create accessible pathways for future biotechnicians to progress from public high schools to degree and certificate programs, to biotechnology careers and/or further study at four-year universities. The project is open to all and additionally targets students traditionally underrepresented in STEM, thus providing opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility by generating access to biotechnology careers.