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Fusing Biology and Technology

January 11, 2013

Category: A Closer Look

The 25th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium brought together students, faculty, alumni, administrators and partners from across the 23 campus university system to advance an intricate and cutting edge understanding of life.  More than 700 current and future biotechnology researchers and professionals participated in this silver anniversary symposium held in Anaheim from January 3-5, 2013.  The symposium was a showcase for the year-round work incubated by the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB).

A major focus of the symposium was the impact that faculty-student collaborations have had and will have over the next 25 years.  Cal State L.A. Professor Sandra Sharp introduced her former student Hector Aguilar-Carreno.  Aguilar-Carreno (above), now an Assistant Professor at Washington State University, shared his group’s work to understand and mitigate the risks of Nipah virus – a deadly virus initially transmitted to humans from animals but then spread human-to-human.

Students at the syposium had the opportunity to survey the broad spectrum of cutting-edge biotechnologies, product-focused innovation and career paths available in the life sciences.  A career networking session gave students at the clinical project management table (above) a chance to speak with Annalee Estrellado, a project manager in BioPharma Services at Genoptix, Inc. and San Diego State University graduate.

Symposium participants enjoyed a world premiere performance.  Cal Poly Pomona faculty and students revealed “Exploring Stem Cells Through Dance” (above).  The modern dance, created with a grant from CSUPERB, interprets an informative video produced by faculty leaders of the Cal Poly Pomona/Cal State L.A. California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Bridges to Stem Cell Research Training Program.  Dancers wearing various t-shirt colors interpreted various human stem and differentiated cells, including red for the heart.

Cal State L.A. President James Rosser, who began his presidency in 1979 making him the CSU’s longest serving president, received special recognition for his role in founding the CSUPERB Presidents’ Commission.  Rosser’s connection to CSUPERB’s mission is deeply rooted in his own academic, teaching and research background in microbiology and health care.  In the photo above (left to right) are Humboldt State President and CSUPERB Presidents’ Commission Chair Rollin Richmond, SFSU Professor and CSUPERB Faculty Consensus Group Chair Michael Goldman, Rosser, CSUPERB Executive Director Susan Baxter, and Cal State LA graduate and Grifols Biologicals, Inc. President Willie Zuniga.

During the symposium, CSU students and faculty recognized peers who reflected the best of research, teaching and service in the biological sciences.  CSU Fullerton graduate student Nicole Ratib (above) presented her research into a symbiotic bacterium in alfalfa – she was recognized with the 2013 Don Eden Graduate Student Research Award.  Ratib was joined in recognition by Alexander Burtea (CSU Fullerton, Glenn Nagel Undergraduate Research Award), Gregory Manata (Humboldt State, Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Award), the Howell-CSUPERB Scholars and Presidents’ Commission Scholars.

The faculty awards underscored the critical roles of mentor and teacher in addition to researcher. Chris Kitts (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Faculty Research Award) dedicated his presentation to underscore the rich potential of student-centered research.  He presented a study he and his students conducted into bioremediation of oil spills.  Kitts was joined in recognition by “renaissance man” Jim Ritchey (Sacramento State, Andreoli Faculty Service Award).

Advances in knowledge and technology are team activities.  This is especially true when a novel drug, device or process transitions from discovery to delivery.

Five finalist CSU teams of biological science, business and marketing students revealed their product launch plan to a panel of judges in the CSUPERB Idea to Product (I2P®) Early-Stage Biotechnology Commercialization Challenge.  As all the competitors stood anxiously on the stage, CSU Board of Trustees Chair Bob Linscheid (above) announced Team “Thrombin” from Sacramento State took first place and Team “Abiotic” from Cal Poly Pomona took second.

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