Announcing: 17th International Forum on Consciousness

Means and Metrics for Detecting and Measuring Consciousness

Speakers on stage during last year's conference.

Panel speakers from last year’s Forum on Consciousness.

A diverse panel of thought leaders in neuroscience and consciousness, from the chief scientist and president of the Allen Institute for Brain Science to the principal English translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, will explore Means and Metrics for Detecting and Measuring Consciousness at the 17th International Forum on Consciousness May 17–18, 2018, in Madison, Wisconsin.  Presenters will discuss emerging technologies for looking into the phenomenon of consciousness such as sleep, wakefulness, altered states, focused attention, and coma. The Forum will ask how the ability to better measure consciousness may create opportunities to improve human function, resolve disease states, and keep the brain/mind healthier throughout all stages of life.

WHAT: The International Forum on Consciousness is a yearly event dedicated to information-sharing and discussion regarding important—and often challenging—topics related to the exploration of consciousness. It is co-hosted by the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute) and Promega Corporation.

WHEN: May 17-18, 2018

WHERE: BioPharmaceutical Technology Center, Promega Corporation, 5445 East Cheryl Parkway, Fitchburg, WI 53711

REGISTRATION: The International Forum on Consciousness is open to the general public but limited to 300 participants. Registration is $265 and there are a limited number of scholarships available to assist with the cost. Forum registrants also have the opportunity to join a presenter for a small group discussion over dinner on Thursday evening, May 17 for an additional $90. For more information or to register, visit


The Unforgettable Experience of Traveling: Beyond the Formal Learning Experience

CTPGE students (l to r): Anna Facchetti, Anqi Fu, Pureum Jeon, and Hajeong Sim; Anna and Anqi are UW-Madison graduate students.

CTPGE students (l to r): Anna Facchetti, Anqi Fu, Pureum Jeon, and Hajeong Sim;
Anna and Anqi are UW-Madison graduate students.

Last fall, I blogged about our partnership with Promega-Hannam BTCI at Hannam University in Daejeon, Korea , providing an overview of the ways in which we have collaborated over the years.

This year, 2016,  included the participation of two Hannam students, Pureum Jeon and Hajeong Sim, in one of our advanced courses, Core Techniques in Protein and Genetic Engineering (CTPGE), which offers graduate credits through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. UW-Madison is a bustling campus with a large international student, staff and faculty population, and Promega Corporation is a global company with a diverse workforce that brings a steady stream of international visitors to its main campus in Fitchburg. My sense is that sometimes those of us who live and work in environments like this, who also regularly tap into global news, can lose touch with what it’s like to leave home and travel to a completely new place, perhaps somewhere far away where the language spoken is not your own.

Our experience with Pureum and Hajeong this summer was a reminder of how important these experiences can be for those who make these journeys. Their participation in the course provided them with valuable training, but the small things, like walking around the UW campus, having dinner with one of us, driving through rural Wisconsin and feeling welcomed at the hotel, also meant so much.

In their own words, here are a few of their thoughts: Continue reading

UW Master of Science in Biotechnology Program: An Excellent Fit for both Scientists and Business Professionals

WebinarsThe University of Wisconsin’s Master of Science in Biotechnology Program (MS-Biotechnology Program) is uniquely designed for working professionals who would like to further their careers in biotechnology.  It is based on an interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on the science, law, and business of biotechnology.

Faculty represent both the academic and corporate worlds.  This has allowed the program to remain extremely applied and to focus on the skills essential for success in global biotechnology industries.

The program has been collaborating since its inception in 2002 with the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute) to provide the three laboratory-based Molecular Technologies courses.

As noted on the program’s website (, it offers:

  • A curriculum like no other that integrates topics in science, business, and law
  • Powerful skills that bring the “big picture” of life sciences product development into clear focus
  • Exclusive evening/weekend courses allowing you to work full-time while enrolled
  • A completed degree in less than two years

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, it is ideally suited for working professionals with either science backgrounds and training, or those with business or legal experience, or both.  The strong cohort nature of the program allows students with varying backgrounds to assist each other in working on topics that are not familiar to them. Continue reading

A Celebration of Life XX—Wild Weather!

Summer Science Vacation

Summer Science Vacation

The African American Ethnic Academy and the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute), both 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organizations, have collaborated for twenty years in offering A Celebration of Life, a summer science program for upper elementary and middle school students. The program is open to all area students, with tuition reimbursement and transportation provided for those who need that assistance.

With supporting grants from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, an educational arm of NASA, two summer science camps are offered this year – one for upper elementary and one for middle schools students. We just completed the first session, full mornings for two weeks for students entering 3rd–5th grade and have launched the second one, same format, for middle school students this week.

Needless to say, the theme of Wild Weather! lends itself to a wide array of hands-on, exploratory activities.  Here are a few of our favorites that you may wish to try out with the kids in your life. Continue reading

Reflections on Summer 2014 Courses

Group Photo from the 2014 Core Techniques in Protein and Genetic Engineering Course Held at the BTC Institute July 14-18. Photo credit: BTCI

Group Photo from the 2014 Core Techniques in Protein and Genetic Engineering Course Held at the BTC Institute July 14-18. Photo credit: BTCI

One of the things that I encourage all of the students I interact with in BTC Institute courses to do in order to boost retention and make meaning out of the activities that we do in class is to reflect on their experiences. Reflection is one way to connect new knowledge to past experience and get it to really stick in the brain, among other things.

Taking my own advice to heart, I use this space to ponder some interesting aspects of these experiences from my own perspective. This summer, I worked with 65 students and over 25 instructors to deliver four weeks of intensive instruction in molecular biology applied to a wide range of research areas. Continue reading

Campers, Time to Register for Summer Courses

Teaching Labs at the BTC Institute.

Teaching Labs at the BTC Institute.

As a parent, I have seen scores and scores of summer camp advertisements and announcements come my way. It’s a constant reminder that even though here in Madison it’s been hard to keep track of what month it is on account of the especially cold winter and spring, summer is coming!

It is time to get kids into camps and doing some great activities. So, while you’re checking out what opportunities your kids might have to play around and learn something interesting this summer, be sure to look into what opportunities you have as well.

The BTC Institute ( is a nonprofit organization located on the Promega Madison campus and dedicated, in part, to providing educational opportunities and hands-on learning experiences to support the biotechnology community. We have been offering courses since 1993 – that’s over 20 years of experience!

Our courses attract university students and scientists, but they are also appropriate for industry employees. In our workshops and course offerings, our goal is to help learners make concrete connections between technical content and laboratory techniques by doing hands-on science in our labs.

Here is a brief list of the courses we are offering this summer – Continue reading