Biotech Club’s Outreach and Experiments


Nicole Littlefield, Managing Editor

Jillian Cook became a club officer for the Biotech Club in Fall 2020 and began working with the faculty adviser Karen Persky. Although meeting the COD guidelines during the pandemic made it harder to run the club, the Biotech Club began meeting on Zoom.

Club meetings are at 4 every other Wednesday for club members and every Wednesday for officers. The club meetings go until the conversation stops. They talk about a wide range of topics that relate to biotech, which Cook defines as “the synergy between biology and technology and how it can work together.”

At the club meetings, the club members talk about Biotech related topics. Last semester the club talked about Jennifer Doudna, winner of the Nobel Prize, and gene editing. They also talked about MRIs as well as quantum mechanics. Sometimes guests will come and talk about their experiences working in the biotech field. However, the Biotech Club isn’t only talking about Biotech topics, the club is also a part of outreach programs.

Biotech Club President Samiha Syed said, “We are doing STEM outreach by reaching out to local middle and elementary schools to form unstaffed activities and promote the study of STEM. We’re looking at two things that are reaching out to these middle and elementary schools: we’re seeing whether they’re underserved or marginalized areas where they don’t really have access to programs that promote STEM interest and we’re also looking at the local schools so we can have students be involved with the COD community.”

The club is making a video of a DNA extraction lab for elementary and middle school students that shares the importance of DNA. The hands-on experiment requires a few common household objects, such as toothpicks, coffee filters and strawberries. 

Cook said, “We reached out to a couple of different contacts at a couple of different schools and asked them to reach out to their science teachers and asked if they could incorporate what we are doing into their curriculum. Then, we sent out a list of items that would be needed for the DNA extractions and gave them a couple of weeks for the students to get the list. They would come on Zoom for the demonstration and one of our offices would demonstrate.”

This isn’t the only way the Biotech Club is doing outreach, they are also partaking in STEMCON, a public outreach event created to encourage and inform students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Although it will be virtual this year, the coordinators are working to ensure STEMCON happens this year.

Cook said, “On the day of STEMCON, we will have videos that can be viewed and people can follow along with the videos, but there may also be an experiment going on live.”

The Biotech Club is working to provide elementary and middle schoolers with access to information about STEM-related fields; however, the club is a great place for COD students with interests in biotech to talk.

Biotech Club Vice President Zuhairullah Syed said, “It’s been really nice coming to these meetings and being able to experience a small group of people who have the same interests as you.”

For more information email Cook at [email protected]