COVID forced a pause in 2020 and 2021 so BioBuilder is truly thrilled to embark on a new season of the popular and impactful High School Apprenticeship Challenge program this spring!

You may remember reading about the program in BioBuilder’s May 2021 blog post. In a nutshell, the program trains under-represented high school students in hands-on life science laboratory bench work. The ultimate goal is for students to complete a paid summer internship at an academic or life science company lab.

Oh how we've missed you!


Here’s how the Challenge works. From mid-March through mid-May, students attend an after-school lab training program twice weekly and on Saturday mornings. This year, the training sessions will be held at BioBuilder’s new Learning Lab @ Ginkgo! Students work in biodesign teams to hone their laboratory skills while diving into a synbio design project.

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

During the training period, BioBuilder helps students identify and set up interviews with local laboratories for paid summer internships. The Boston area’s life sciences hub presents an incredible number of opportunities for the students, and BioBuilder partners with many area companies, colleges, and other life science organizations. For example, one of BioBuilder’s newest partners is the biopharmaceutical company UCB.

UCB focuses on developing treatments for severe diseases that have significant unmet needs, especially neurology and immunology diseases. UCB recognized BioBuilder’s important work and supports them via a grant and the participation of UCB scientists in BioBuilder programs, including the Apprenticeship Challenge. What a great place for students to get their first taste of professional work and see the possibilities for their futures!

BioBuilder’s Career Conversations includes an interview with UCB’s Kerry Black

Lots to do in '22

So far, a dozen students have applied for the Apprenticeship Challenge. That means fewer than half the spots remain – perhaps you or a student you know is interested? Head over to the program webpage to learn more and submit your application. We would love to have you join us!

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Are you still wondering if the Challenge really makes a difference in students’ lives? Yes, it definitely does!

Rachana Kilaru is BioBuilder’s new Tennessee Regional Coordinator. Rachana resides in Johnson City, Tennessee, right in the thick of the East Tennessee synthetic biology hub—the perfect spot to help the region and the State expand their synbio and STEM education initiatives. Rachana is passionate about making science education accessible to everyone. She is already using her University of Chicago education and her professional experience to support educators and students along their synbio journey. Welcome to BioBuilder, Rachana!

Olivia Cerretani has taken on the role of Event Coordinator for BioBuilder in which she organizes and oversees events at BioBuilder’s new Learning Lab @ Ginkgo and other special events. Olivia brings to BioBuilder her experience planning and managing events of all sizes—from small groups to city-wide events—for academic, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. In May, Olivia will graduate with her BA degree from Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. Welcome, Olivia!

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