SHORELINE, WA — Science doesn’t have to be serious and only for the science student. In fact, science can be quite the opposite. It can be like joining TV’s CSI team to find the solution. The field of biotechnology offers just such an opportunity for adventure and diversity as well as an exciting career.
On Aug. 11-13, local high school students will get a chance to role play biotechnologists at the Biotechnology Summer Student Experience at Shoreline Community College.
A group of 14 teenagers from Best, Summit, Roosevelt, Auburn Riverside and Garfield high schools will experience the real deal, working side-by-side with Shoreline Community College Biotechnology Outreach Coordinator, Adrienne Houck, performing lab activities in the college’s biotechnology lab. Participants will perform things that biotechs do every day in their jobs such as drawing liquids and bacterial transformation Students will also have an introduction to bioinformatics, experiencing how to use computers to retrieve gene information and how researchers analyze it and integrate it into gene-based research and development.
“It’s exciting to provide an opportunity for students to work in a realistic laboratory, using equipment they might not have seen before,” says Houck. “Many of these students have not been able to participate in outreach science programs focusing on biotechnology. With very few of these available in the area, they are highly competitive and focused on the very top student. We wanted the “everyday” student that is interested in science, who needs opportunities like this to see how to get into a great career.”
SCC Biotechnology Program Director and Professor Guy Hamilton will talk about college life and the biotechnology and science programs. A representative from the Financial Aid Office will be on hand to talk about financial aid and scholarship opportunities for the Lab Specialist program and the students will tour the campus.
Science Dean Susan Hoyne says the Biotechnology Program at the college is first rate. “Shoreline has an outstanding biotech program that’s hands-on. Major companies and institutions employ our graduates and we equip our students to work in a lab anywhere in the world. Lab technicians don’t need to have a PhD—they just need to enjoy science.”
The students will also tour the Amgen Pilot Manufacturing Plant in Bothell, where they will watch scientists work on research projects, specifically the design of possible new pharmaceutical products.
“When researchers have products that are promising, they are sent to the pilot plant to see if it can be replicated and the integrity of the product can be kept while increasing the amount,” says Houck, who says that if successful, clinical research, which include clinical trials would be the next step.
The young students will walk through several basic research labs and see the scientists in action and how product is transferred through bioreactors. Bioreactors are large metal containers kept at strict standards that increase the product amount into many liters.
“They get to see a very unique view into this field compared to other biotechs in the PNW area,” says Houck, who points out that the students will see the researchers using the same tools they used earlier in the laboratory at the college. “It makes careers in biotechnology seem obtainable because they experience it in action.”
Students will have the opportunity to talk to administrators and researchers and ask questions about their work and careers in biotechnology. They will be awarded a certificate of completion.