March for Science—Every Day

Kindergarten teacher and children looking at bird's nest in librEarth Day, April 22, saw one of many of the marches on Washington, D.C. that 2017 has produced: The March for Science.

A march is a shout, a “Hey, over here, you need to hear this” one-time event. It is not a conversation. It really isn’t even action. It’s a start that requires follow up.

But how do you follow up a massive, organized march that happened across the globe? Consider following it up with little things, at every opportunity:

First, say “yes” to opportunities to be an ambassador for science. Continue reading

Biotechnology Youth Apprentice Madhu Gowda Wins GRAND PRIZE at the Capital Science and Engineering Fair

Madhu presents her work.

Madhu presents her work.

Imagine the pleasure Barbara Bielec, the BTC Institute’s K-12 Program Director and co-coordinator of the Dane County Youth Apprenticeship Program in Biotechnology (YAP-Biotechnology), felt when reading this recent message from Sharon Tang, one of our apprentice’s mentors:

“I am unbelievably proud to let you know that Madhu won not only first place for the biological science projects, but also the GRAND PRIZE at the Capital Science and Engineering Fair this weekend! She was at the fair from 7:30am until 4:30pm presenting her work done in our lab and did a fantastic, eloquent job speaking about her project. This was such an impressive honor – she won among over 20 competing students in the region, earned a cash award, and will be competing as a finalist at the Intel international science fair in May. I’m sure she’ll tell you, but I am just over the moon and wanted to share the news as well. Attaching a photo I took of her in action.”

A second year student in the program, Madhu is a senior at Middleton High School. Since November, 2015, she has been working in the lab of Dr. Susan Thibeault in the Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Continue reading

On the Road with the Biotechnology Field Trips Program

BFT-aThe On the Road (OTR) BTC Institute Biotechnology Field Trips (BFT) program is rolling right along!  We are doing our best to brave the winter weather to take hands-on science activities all over the state of Wisconsin.

The BTC Institute BFT program served over 3,400 students last year, most of them here at the BTC in Fitchburg.  That said, each year the OTR part of the program is growing in order to serve schools that cannot travel here for various reasons, such as distance, bus costs and the need to minimize out of school time. Continue reading

Sitting on the Moon

Today’s blog is from BTCI Instructor and guest blogger Jackie Mosher.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. —Norman Vincent Peale

mosher_a_editThis motivational quote has echoed throughout my life from childhood.  It has inspired me to be fearless in dreaming, to be ambitious and to reach for those goals without fearing failure. So, naturally at the ripe age of 10, my goal was to become a scientist and discover a cure to both AIDS and cancer with a secondary plan of becoming this nation’s first female President. However, as I grew older, I realized my genuine interest and excitement for science and that I enjoyed not only learning about various scientific concepts but also sharing this information with others. Therefore, I completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a major in Molecular Biology and minor in Chemistry and decided to continue my studies as a graduate student at UW-Madison in the Cancer Biology graduate program.  My goal was to graduate and aid in disseminating scientific knowledge.

Why teach and not become a scientist? 

Continue reading

Next-Generation Genomics Education: Educating and Preparing the Next Generation

Students pursuing their interests wit h hands-on activities at BTC Institute.

Students pursuing their interests wit h hands-on activities at BTC Institute.

The BTC Institute has many partners in creating educational opportunities in the molecular biosciences. In recent years, we have worked with the Dane County School to Work Consortium (DCSWC) to create a unique, one-semester class aimed at giving high school Juniors and Seniors interested in scientific research and health careers a chance to explore how concepts they have been learning about in their biology and biotechnology classrooms are used in the laboratory.

To take it one step further, these laboratory experiences are tied to the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges in Global Health. The Challenges provide a framework to help students understand worldwide concerns, including ways in which biotechnology can be applied to generate solutions to these problems. Students are encouraged to place scientific challenges within social and socioeconomic contexts which, in turn, make some solutions more appealing than others. This holistic approach provides the “real world” milieu that is so sought after in academic endeavors. Continue reading

Meet Yaron Kidron, Principal Software Engineer and Member of the Spectrum Team

29160613_lPromega will introduce the Spectrum CE System for forensic and paternity analysis. Building this system requires the efforts of many people from many disciplines–from our customers who have told us their needs to the engineers and scientists building the instrument and ensuring its performance. Periodically we will introduce our Promega Connections readers to a team member so that you can have a sneak peak and behind-the-scenes look at Spectrum CE System  and the people who are creating it (of course if you truly want to be the first to know, sign up at www.promega.com/spectrum to receive regular, exclusive updates about Spectrum CE).

Today we introduce Yaron Kidron, Principal Software Engineer. Continue reading

United States of STEM Majors

Every child is a natural-born scientist. This idea was coined by Carl Sagan, who devoted his life to nurturing a curious mindset among the public. A raw appreciation of the natural world and a humble perspective of our position in it are two of the most powerful side effects of a scientific education. This does not mean that every person should be a scientist; only one in four college students who majored in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) work in a STEM-specific occupation in the U.S., as you can see below.

STEM-majors-occupations

1 in 4 STEM majors work in STEM. Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Click for full interactive.

One challenge affecting many students is the amount of pressure to get into “the right” college. The truth is that there is no one path to take you to your dream job. You do not need to get into one of the top 10 business schools in order to build a successful business, and having a technical background in creative problem solving—a STEM education—will afford you new opportunities for the kinds of businesses you can create. The good news is that there are an incredible amount of colleges around the U.S. that provide great STEM educations, and this article seeks to explore the unique strengths in each state. Continue reading

Meet Andrea Chow, Sr. Director of Integrated Engineering and Member of the Spectrum CE Team

29160613_l Promega will introduce the Spectrum CE System for forensic and paternity analysis. Building this system requires the efforts of many people from many disciplines–from our customers who have told us their needs to the engineers and scientists building the instrument and ensuring its performance. Periodically we will introduce our Promega Connections readers to a team member so that you can have a sneak peak and behind-the-scenes look at Spectrum CE System  and the people who are creating it (of course if you truly want to be the first to know, sign up at www.promega.com/spectrum to receive regular, exclusive updates about Spectrum CE).

Today we introduce Andrea Chow, Sr. Director, Integrated Engineering. Continue reading

Welcome to Your Biotechnology Field Trip at the BTC Institute!

Kaukauna High School students arrive at the BTC for a biotechnology fieldtrip.

Kaukauna High School students arrive at the BTC for a biotechnology fieldtrip.

BTCI provides our students an opportunity that they could never get in the classroom.
—Jim Geoffrey, Biology Teacher, Kaukauna High School

Your bus has arrived and parked in the circular driveway at the front of the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center on the Promega Corporation campus in Fitchburg, WI. Your BTC Institute hosts – and instructors – for your field trip are Barbara Bielec (K-12 Program Director) and Ryan Olson (Biotechnology Instructor). They’ll greet you in the Atrium and direct you to a conference room where you can leave coats and backpacks, and then to the lab you’ll be working in during your visit.

Here’s a taste of what happened next for students from Random Lake High School and Wonewoc High School on December 3rd, and from Kaukauna High School on December 4th. Continue reading

Support Young Scientists: Mentors Needed for Dane County Biotechnology Youth Apprentices

I moved back to Madison from the east coast last September and I have to say it’s been really great being back in the Midwest… the Youth Apprenticeship Program opened doors to opportunities for me that may never have existed if I had not participated in the program. It established the foundation of my entire resume throughout college, which was crucial to the genetic counseling application process. — Kristin Gunderson, Genetic Counselor, Carbone Cancer Center (Kristin worked in the lab of Dr. Deane Mosher, UW School of Medicine Public Health, under the mentorship of Dr. Bianca Tomasini-Johannson and is a 2006 high school graduate.)

Yang Chen, 2015 graduate, at her worksite in the lab of Dr. Xuehua Zhong, UW-Madison Department of Genetics; mentor: Dean Sanders. Yang is currently a freshman at UW-Madison, majoring in microbiology.

Yang Chen, 2015 graduate, at her worksite in the lab of Dr. Xuehua Zhong, UW-Madison Department of Genetics; mentor: Dean Sanders. Yang is currently a freshman at UW-Madison, majoring in microbiology.

OK, we are not going to be shy about it: We need any assistance our readers may be able to provide to help us find additional mentors for high school juniors and seniors who are enrolled in the Dane County Youth Apprenticeship Program in Biotechnology.

The good news is that there are 32 students who have elected to participate in the program, given their strong interests in the life sciences and in particular, biotechnology. They represent 14 public high schools in the area. They (1) complete all necessary classes for graduation; (2) attend a hour-hour intensive laboratory course at the BTC Institute from 4:30–8:30pm on Wednesdays; and, (3) work in laboratory settings throughout the community.  (For details, please visit: http://www.btci.org/k12/yap/yap.html) Continue reading