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High-Schoolers Learn About Biotech Careers

University, MassBioEd Host Conference

Students listen to laboratory technician Christopher Santeufemio, center, as he explains the research being conducted at the University’s Materials Characterization Laboratory.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

About 280 high school students recently met at UMass Lowell to explore career opportunities in life sciences.

The daylong event attracted students from 10 high schools statewide.

Presented by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd), Biotech Futures featured talks by leading scientists, biotechnology professionals and UMass Lowell professors. There were also career panel discussions, company presentations, science demonstrations and tours of the University’s laboratories on the North Campus.

Speakers included Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville, along with UMass Lowell science and engineering faculty and representatives from industry. David Mantus of Cubist Pharmaceuticals gave the keynote address.

Visiting students participated in hands-on demonstrations during their tours of University labs in assistive technology, baseball research, biotechnology, microscopy, nanomanufacturing, polymer science and robotics.

“By exposing students to real-world scientific experiences and to science-career professionals, we make science relevant, inquiry-based and career-focused,” says Lance Hartford, executive director of MassBioEd. “We know that it is these experiences that ignite scientific curiosity and passion among students, leading them to continue to study science and consider science careers.”

MassBioEd is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 2001 that is committed to supporting the state’s science and biotechnology education through school programs, workforce training and lifelong learning. This year’s Biotech Futures conference was sponsored by Amgen.

Engineering Dean John Ting, second from left, with UMass Lowell Outreach and Recruitment Director Michael Belcher, Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville and MassBioEd Executive Director Lance Hartford.