This year’s class saw 19 high school students from 12 public schools completing the rigorous curriculum that includes Learning by Doing, Presenting, and Celebrating!

May is a month of celebration at BioBuilder as the 2023 High School Apprenticeship Challenge students present their research and then graduate from the program. Each year, the Apprenticeship Challenge enrolls between 10 to 25 high school students who are committed to exploring careers in the life sciences. The students are recommended by their teachers from schools throughout the metro-Boston area.

Learning by Doing

The students’ training began in mid-March at BioBuilder’s state-of-the-art Learning Lab @Ginkgo. The Apprentices grouped into six teams and tackled important challenges in the world of food, medicine, energy, manufacturing, and the environment.

The student teams were assisted along the way by a group of top-notch instructors:

The combination of learning from professionals in a classroom setting and during hands-on application in the lab is a powerful approach. In total, the students work for more than 42 hours learning and doing synthetic biology and bioengineering design.


The Apprentice teams showcased their work during a Poster Session held on May 1st at LabCentral, a biotech startup incubator and the home of BioBuilder’s original Learning Lab. For most of the Apprentices, the day was their first professional networking experience. The Apprentices presented their team’s work to an excited group of industry professionals and potential hiring companies as well as encouraging family, friends, and instructors.

at the poster
pointing at poster
Jasmine at Poster

Many of BioBuilder’s industry partners and program supporters were there. The local training and research programs that attended included

  • Boston University STEM Pathways
  • Forsyth Institute
  • GMGI
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Ragon Institute Summer Experience and
  • Digital Ready.
Visterra Linkedin
Also in attendance were industry and biotech umbrella organizations:
  • Asimov
  • Visterra
  • Jura
  • Boston Private Industry Council
  • Mission BioCapital
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • King Street Properties
From Julie


On May 11, it was time to honor and graduate this year’s Apprentices. The Closing Ceremony at the Learning Lab @Ginkgo was a celebration of the dedicated, joyful, brilliant students who worked so diligently on their synthetic biology projects.

In front of family, friends, and supporters from BU STEM Pathways, UCB, and Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Apprentices were recognized. Dr. Natalie Kuldell, BioBuilder’s Founder and Executive Director, introduced the program’s goals, and each of the instructors spoke about their fondest memories and proudest moments of these Apprentice students.  

Dr. Peter Horanyi, Senior Principal Scientist at UCB, was the keynote speaker. He  shared his encouraging story of learning to love science, just as the Apprentices are doing, and pursuing that passion with determination. “Come stand on our shoulders” he told the students, just before each received their certificates.

Peter Horanyi_HSAC 2023

The students were thrilled as they accepted their well-deserved congratulations, and their families were just as excited and oh so proud of their kids! The smiles all around the room said it all!

The graduates are now preparing for paid summer internships at life science companies and research laboratories in the metro-Boston area. Their employers are going to be so happy with the lab skills, professional skills, and synthetic biology know-how that these students gained during the Apprenticeship Challenge. No doubt, these students are going to thrive in their summer work and beyond!

BioBuilder is thrilled to congratulate Dr. Michael Sheets for earning his PhD in molecular biology! Dr. Sheets has a long history with BioBuilder, where his passion for synthetic biology began.

Michael first learned about synthetic biology in 2011 from his high school teacher, Rebekah Ravgiala, at Tyngsborough (MA) High School. He was on Tyngsborough’s first-ever BioBuilderClub team, and then advanced his interest in synthetic biology as a bioengineering undergraduate at Olin College.

High School Michael

Michael returned to BioBuilder as a mentor for the Tyngsborough High team, and then joined the teaching team to help run the BioBuilderClub program and serve as a teaching assistant for other BioBuilder programs. In his spare time :), Michael has been pursuing his doctorate at the Dunlop Lab at Boston University. His research focuses on the development of light-inducible protein tools to study bacterial antibiotic resistance.


On May 4, 2023, Michael defended his doctoral thesis to an audience that included his dissertation committee professors, family, friends, and of course his long-time mentors Rebekah Ravgiala and Dr. Natalie Kuldell.


We are so proud of Michael and the outstanding work he has already accomplished, and we wish him even more success and happiness!

Congratulations Dr. Michael Sheets!