Teaching biology is no longer sufficient to train the next generation of scientists. Preparation requires a combination of genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, embryology and cell biology with technical disciplines like chemical engineering, information technology and robotics. It requires a discipline like the new UH biotechnology program.
Housed in the College of Technology and funded by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and National Science Foundation (NSF), the program collaborates with area chemical and biotech industries on research projects, giving students valuable experiences to take into their professional world.
“With the funding from the TWC, we were able to outfit an entire state of the art lab with brand new equipment, so students have access to equipment that other students do not have,” Iyer said. “Their projects relate to environmental biotechnology, protein purification, fermentation. They’ll use bioprocessors and typical molecular biology type of equipment.”
The program distinguishes itself from others in its interdisciplinary nature, but also through the courses in industry regulations, quality control and quality assurances, and supervisory skills. The program celebrates its first graduating class this year.
“If we are preparing our students in a traditional manner, they’re not going to be ready to be the future scientists,” she said. “Our students are very well aligned to be in the chemical as well as the medical industry because they are doing DNA-based technology, the upstream and the downstream of protein purification, all at an undergraduate level.”
The Biotechnology Program is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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