Work-Based Biotechnology Education from High School to Community College

Biotechnology and related life sciences are among the fastest-growing industries in the nation, with a high demand for entry-level workers holding two-year or four-year college degrees. Because of the high density of biotechnology industries and research laboratories in the San Francisco Bay area, this region has high demand for biotechnology workers. However, the region has a shortage of trained entry-level biotechnology workers. Moreover, few individuals from African American and Hispanic communities pursue careers in biotechnology. Thus, a compelling need exists for opening new career paths in biotechnology for students from these communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To address this need, the project will support the City College of San Francisco’s Biotechnology program to work with local high schools to spark the interest of high school students in biotechnology. Students will have access to hands-on activities, field trips, and real-work experiences that include paid internships. These actions are designed to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in biotechnology and increase the capacity for biotechnology workforce development.

The goal of this project is to address the biotechnology workforce shortage and lack of diversity by strengthening the pipeline of high school students from communities that are underrepresented in STEM into biotechnology studies at a community college. To accomplish this goal, the biotechnology faculty at City College of San Francisco will collaborate with teachers at local high schools with higher populations of the targeted students. High school students will visit the college during field trips and participate in carefully planned hands-on activities. In addition, high school students will gain valuable laboratory work skills during a paid summer internship. These students will receive training in leadership and peer mentoring skills and will be given the opportunity to work as classroom teaching assistants. The students will learn about careers in biotechnology and educational opportunities at the College. Lastly, under supervision of the faculty, City College of San Francisco students will develop outreach and instructional videos to supplement the instructional material for the College’s biotechnology courses and strengthen the high school student learning experience. The videos will be disseminated freely to high school and other educators. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.

Project PI: 
Golnar Afshar PhD
Host Organization: City College of San Francisco
Other Collaborators: 
  • Carin  Zimmerman PhD (Co-Principal Investigator, City College of San Fancisco)
Grant number: DUE 2055180
Project Contact Info: 
City College of San Francisco San Francisco CA