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The Future of Bio

Conference introduces area students to latest in life sciences

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Local high school students recently came to Bridgewater State University for a Biotech Futures conference hosted by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Educational Foundation (MassBioEd). 

“We try to partner with schools that have a population of kids who do not have guardians in place to take them to visit college campuses,” said Michelle Mischke of MassBioEd. “Conferences like this open up access and allow kids to get a taste of what a college campus is all about.”

During the event, students from Attleboro, North Attleboro, Seekonk, Dennis-Yarmouth, Brockton and Southeastern Regional Technical High School learned how life sciences are supporting the growing biotechnology industry. 

There are more jobs than candidates within the biotechnology field, said Dr. Kristen Porter-Utley,dean of the Bartlett College of Science and Mathematics. Which means, she added, that educating students about biotech career opportunities is important. 

“This is a great way to show students what it’s like working in biotech,” she said. 

Dr. Kenneth W. Adams opened the event with a discussion on ways biotechnology is being used to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. 

“We’re are doing the best we can right now, technologically speaking,” he said. “The disease is so awful. But we are going to keep trying and hopefully come up with better approaches.” 

During their visit, students participated in labs led by BSU faculty members. 

Dr. Meri Krevosky and Dr. Alexandra Adams presented The Anatomy and Physiology of YOU, where participating students took part in four interactive activities that included viewing structures of the heart, brain and skeletal muscle, meanwhile learning how these organs function through electrocardiogram recordings. 

With the help of Dr. Maria Armour, participants observed and investigated how thermal stress and chemicals can affect a heart rate’s intrinsic and extrinsic controls. Students also learned how to separate different types of molecules from Dr. Sarah Sotau, by using two different methods: reversed phase chromatography and size-exclusion chromatography. 

In her lab, Dr. Heather Marella had students create algae balls to explore how various environmental conditions impact photosynthetic output, while Dr. Jennifer Mendell looked at different variables, including epidemiological data, to determine the source of a foodborne illness outbreak. 

“For students considering going to college, I hope today helps them better understand who Bridgewater State is, what we have to offer, and who we are,” said Dr. Porter-Utley. 

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