Summer 2016: Exciting Science Programs for Kids at the BTC Institute!

First, a quick update: Hard to believe, but we’re in our 21st academic year at the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute).  February finds us immersed in our usual second semester offerings.  Our Biotechnology Field Trips program is on the way to record attendance, but it’s not too late for you to schedule a visit for this spring, or for a group this summer: btci blog photo 2http://www.btci.org/k12/bft/bft.html.

We’re also pleased to report that work site mentors have been found for almost all of the juniors and seniors enrolled in the State of Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship Program in Biotechnology – Dane County (http://www.btci.org/k12/yap/yap.html).

Now, let’s turn our attention to Summer 2016.  We’re excited to once again offer great opportunities for upper elementary, middle and high school students to engage in activities that will allow them to explore their interests in the life sciences – and to learn a lot along the way. And, it’s not too soon to think about summer! Here’s a rundown of what’s in store: Continue reading “Summer 2016: Exciting Science Programs for Kids at the BTC Institute!”

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 (www.ms-biotech.wisc.edu), 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 “UW Master of Science in Biotechnology Program: An Excellent Fit for both Scientists and Business Professionals”

Welcome to Your Biotechnology Field Trip at the BTC Institute!

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

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

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 “Welcome to Your Biotechnology Field Trip at the BTC Institute!”

Explorations into the Body of Consciousness: Highlights from Dr. Charles Raison’s talk from the International Forum on Consciousness

Forum attendees have dinner with speakers.
Forum attendees have dinner with speakers.

The following blog highlights the presentation from Dr. Charles Raison at the International Forum on Consciousness, Conscious Evolution: The Awakening, co-hosted by the BTC Institute and Promega Corporation, May 7–8, 2015.

The Forum is designed to bring together people from diverse perspectives and professions to facilitate public dialogue regarding complex and challenging issues.  This year, our intent was to respond to voices of wisdom and action that call for us to shift our consciousness up a notch.

Our goals included building on the lessons of past and present in order to grow further into new systems, new ways of being that may better allow us to foster a long-term, sustainable relationship with the biosphere and the ever-evolving cosmos.

A full house of 325+ attendees, we were guided by eight outstanding presenters, all of whose talks and panel discussions may be viewed via links from our website (http://www.btci.org/consciousness/).   Our first speaker, Dr. Charles Raison, who recently joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin , effectively set the stage for the Forum, piquing interest for the talks and discussions that followed, as well as the many related conversations that continue to flow.

A few highlights from his talk:

  • Science strives for objectivity but every scientist has a personal motivation regarding the work they’ve come to do.
  • Quoting John Muir, “When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” Looking at consciousness this way is interesting – not mystical, but actually scientific.

Continue reading “Explorations into the Body of Consciousness: Highlights from Dr. Charles Raison’s talk from the International Forum on Consciousness”

Promega Art Showcases Explore Creativity, Science and the Unknown

A visitor studies a piece at the current Promega Art Showcase.
A visitor studies a piece at the current Promega Art Showcase.

Albert Einstein once wrote: “to raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.” The marriage of science and creativity, it seems, is indispensable for exploration and the discovery of new ideas.

As a life sciences company, Promega supports the work of scientists who are tasked with unraveling mysteries and who ask questions in an effort to get answers that improve the lives of others. Because creative thinking plays a key role in the scientific discovery process, Promega supports artistic exploration in many forms. As an organization, we appreciate that creativity reinforces the type of imagination that inspires scientific progress and innovation.

Since 1996, Promega Corporation has sponsored quarterly art showcases at the Promega BioPharmaceutical Technology Center on East Cheryl Parkway in Fitchburg, WI. This artistic initiative came about in an effort to explore the depths of creativity and science, and to demystify biotechnology and the work of Promega for our community. Promega Art Showcases, which occur four times per year and are open to the public, have featured the work of local, national and international artists, as well as the art of Promega employees. Continue reading “Promega Art Showcases Explore Creativity, Science and the Unknown”

Career Development for Working Professionals: UW Master of Science in Biotechnology Program

Prior to the Masters in Biotechnology program, I had no working knowledge of Intellectual Property (IP), e.g., patents, trademarks, etc. The M.S. in Biotechnology program not only opened my eyes to Intellectual Property and its importance in biotechnology companies, but it sparked my interested in a career in an IP field. From the knowledge I gained and connections made in the program, I have been able to achieve a career in IP. I am now happy to be able to share my experience and knowledge with current and future students in the program.
—Heather Gerard, M.S. (2006) Intellectual Property Manager, Promega Corporation

Since 2002, the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute) has been effectively collaborating with the UW Master of Science in Biotechnology Program (MS-Biotechnology) to provide the three lab-based Molecular Technologies courses for this unique degree designed for working professionals.

As noted on the program’s web site, it offers:

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

Continue reading “Career Development for Working Professionals: UW Master of Science in Biotechnology Program”

Biotechnology Youth Apprenticeship Program Fosters Young Scientists

Student working in laboratory.
Photo credit: BTC Institute.
Ellyn Lepinski is an intern at Promega who started her biotechnology career path five years ago as a high school junior taking a course from the BTC Institute (www.btci.org) as part of the Biotechnology Youth Apprenticeship Program.

Ellyn credits the program with helping her achieve her goals:

“Over the course of two years in which I was a Youth Apprentice, I obtained numerous skills, both inside and outside of the lab. I gained valuable scientific experience, including techniques like gel electrophoresis, nucleic acid purification, PCR, SDS-PAGE, Western blotting, cell culture and more.

On a personal level, I became very close with other students in the class and with our instructors, Barbara Bielec and Chad Zimprich. Everyone involved was always very approachable and willing to help with both laboratory tasks and in terms of giving advice for the future.

Through the program, I was placed in Dr. Que Lan’s entomology lab at UW-Madison, beginning in 2009. While there, I worked on a project involving sterol carrier protein-2, a protein involved in cholesterol uptake in mosquitoes.Notably, I am still working in Dr. Lan’s lab, however my research focus has shifted to bacterial fermentation. In between working in Dr. Lan’s lab, I also worked at the Forest Products Laboratory (USDA).

Additionally, this past June, I began an internship at Promega in the Scientific Applications department. Here I work to develop new applications for existing projects. This November marks five years of laboratory research for me, which would not have been possible without the Youth Apprenticeship Program and everyone involved. In addition to the specific labs that I have had the opportunity to work in, my experience in the Youth Apprenticeship Program has allowed me to emerge as a leader in my college lab courses. The program has clearly made a phenomenal impact on my life and is something I am very grateful for.”

Photo credit: BTC Institute.
Photo credit: BTC Institute.
Since 1993, the BTC Institute in partnership with the Dane County School Consortium has helped make such opportunities possible to nearly 300 students from public schools throughout Dane County. The program includes a paid apprenticeship in an industry or UW-Madison research lab and specialized instruction. In addition to being paid for their work, students receive high school credit for their participation in the worksite and the specialized biotechnology course held at the BTC Institute.

One aspect of the program that makes it so effective and unique is the amount of time that students spend working. Youth apprentices who start as juniors in the program must work 900 paid work hours to earn the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Skill Standards Certificate from the State of Wisconsin, youth apprentices who start work as seniors must earn 450 work hours. Students have had employment at a variety of companies and UW-Madison research labs, a few examples that have hired multiple apprentices include Genus PIC (ABS), MOFA Global, Promega and laboratories in the UW-Madison Departments of Bacteriology, Biochemistry, Entomology, Genetics, Horticulture, Plant Pathology and Surgery. Many of the students, like Ellyn, continue to be employed by their worksite long after they graduate from high school—proof of how effective this program is in helping to create the next generation STEM workforce.

Each year the BTC Institute hosts a Youth Apprenticeship Program preview night for all of the Dane County youth apprenticeship options: biotechnology, automotive technician, health services, and many more (www.dcsc.org). This year the preview nights will be held February 24 and 25 starting at 5:00pm. Students in grades 10 and 11 who are interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to attend one of the evening sessions with a parent.

10 Surprising Facts About Hallucinogens, Psychedelics and “Magic Mushrooms”

The BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute, which is located at Promega Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin, recently hosted the 10th Annual International Bioethics Forum titled “Manifesting the Mind”. Several notable speakers gave presentations on a rather unexpected subject matter: the use of hallucinogens such as psilocybin (i.e., magic mushrooms) to better understand the nature of consciousness and to even treat neuropsychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and drug addiction. I was one of the lucky participants that attended this forum.

Unlike scientism, science in the true sense of the word is open to unbiased investigation of any existing phenomena.
-Stanislav Grof

Continue reading “10 Surprising Facts About Hallucinogens, Psychedelics and “Magic Mushrooms””