Each month, host-extraordinaire Zeeshan Siddiqui talks with people across the globe so we can all enjoy their inspiring stories. Zeeshan is a Synthetic Biologist and Bioinformatician from Sydney, Australia. He is currently building a Biotechnology company at the London-based startup incubator/talent investor, Entrepreneur First. Zeeshan is passionate about science communication, education, and entrepreneurship, so hosting the BioBuilder podcast was a perfect fit for him – and BioBuilder!
The first two seasons of the podcast included conversations with BioBuilder student alumni, high school and college teachers, BioBuilder board members, authors, and designers. Let’s take a peek at some of those stories.
Jude Clapper started teaching synthetic biology at the Taipei American School in Taiwan after attending a BioBuilder workshop at MIT. His leadership has inspired hundreds of high school students to pursue scientific research careers.
Rebekah Ravgiala is an award-winning biotechnology teacher at Tyngsborough High School in Massachusetts. She attended the very first BioBuilder teacher professional development workshop in 2011 and was hooked! She trained to be an advanced BioBuilder instructor in 2012 so she could teach other teachers the BioBuilder curriculum.
Rebekah shares her BioBuilder experiences and how “biotech with a purpose” helped her get unstuck as a teacher, bringing ambitious new educational goals within reach. She also serves on the BioBuilder Board of Directors, leading the pivot to online programs during the 2020 and 2021 pandemic shutdown and supporting new BioBuilder teachers after their professional development experiences.
Geneva Fischer was a guest when she was a rising sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. During high school, Geneva took part in BioBuilderClub and the Idea Accelerator, and was an intern at the Learning Lab @ Ginkgo. She credits BioBuilder for advancing her skills and interests, and putting her at ease in many advanced settings such as college labs and teaching labs to students.
Oscar Jimenez was interviewed as a rising junior at University of Massachusetts at Lowell, studying biology. His interest in biotechnology was sparked by a high school teacher. That led Oscar to BioBuilder’s High School Apprenticeship Challenge in 2019, which resulted in him being hired at Indigo Ag as a summer intern. Oscar remarks on how his BioBuilder lab skills helped him in the Indigo Ag lab as an intern and at college as a biology major.
Tian Shi was a guest when she was a senior at Georgetown University. She came to BioBuilder’s Learning Lab @ LabCentral as a high school student in 2017. As part of that two week summer workshop she designed a dopamine-sensing biotechnology. She re-visited that project for an undergraduate summer course in entrepreneurship and is now commercializing her idea.
Kevin Fuentes is a first-generation Salvadoran-American now studying chemical engineering and biochemistry at Tufts University. He discovered BioBuilder when Dr. Kuldell gave a presentation to one of his high school science classes. He completed the Apprenticeship Challenge in the spring of 2019 and did his internship at BioBuilder during the summer, teaching in the Learning Lab @ LabCentral.
Rebecca Millman was one of BioBuilder’s longest serving Board members. She believes excellence in science education is critical not just to U.S. competitiveness but also to human survival, and that education is an irreplaceable support for populations currently struggling for economic independence and a higher quality of life.
Katie Hart is an assistant professor at Williams College and is on the Board of Directors of the BioBuilder Educational Foundation. She spent several years running BioBuilder professional development workshops at UC Berkeley. Katie is also one of the authors of the BioBuilder: Synthetic Biology in the Lab textbook.
Julie Legault is designer-entrepreneur and the co-founder of Amino Labs, an MIT spinout that builds hardware and synthetic biology products making genetic engineering accessible to children and non-scientists. Julie walks us through her transition from designer to synthetic biologist and the key role BioBuilder played in her new career path.
This Fall we are delighted to have launched BioBuilder’s The Student Ambassador program. Kicking off the new school year was a Student Ambassador presentation by Presley on September 23rd. Presley is a student at Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Cambridge, MA, and they spoke about BioBuilder’s programs at their school resource fair.
The Ambassadors are students who have participated in BioBuilderClub, Idea Accelerator, or the High School Apprenticeship Challenge. Ambassadors educate and inspire their communities – located anywhere across the globe – by sharing their experiences and stories of how our life-changing science has impacted them. BioBuilder supports Student Ambassadors by helping them expand their network and participate in events that help grow the bioeconomy, paving the way for new educational opportunities and career pathways as the field of synthetic biology expands. Thank you, Presley, for being such an awesome Ambassador!
Students who are interested in becoming an Ambassador can apply online. Once approved, they will receive a welcome kit and the BioBuilder team will help them get ready to go out and tell their world about BioBuilder!