Third party certification & entry-level certificates in biotechnology
There is a growing interest on the part of states in ensuring that students enrolled in vocational programs are prepared for entry-level positions. Third-party certification exams provide a mechanism where students can demonstrate proficiency and readiness to enter the workforce. Industry-validated certificates are particularly appealing since the industry review process ensures that the exams cover skills and knowledge that align with industry needs.
This panel will discuss the Biotechnician Assistant Credential Exam (BACE), a certification exam developed by Biotility, at the University of Florida’s Center of Excellence for Regenerative Health Biotechnology. The BACE exam is designed for students graduating from high school or programs at two-year colleges and has been validated by industry in the state of Florida.
Speakers from several areas will share their experiences and discuss student outcomes:
Tamara Mandell, Lori Wojciechowski, from Biotility will describe how the exam is administered and the historical outcomes.
Jeff Bush, Vero Beach High School, Florida, and Fiona McAlister, PhD., Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, OK, will talk about their experiences.
Neil Glynn, PhD, and Joe Wuerffel, PhD, from Syngenta, a plant biotech company, will discuss their experiences as employers of BACE students.
Linnea Fletcher, PhD, Austin Community College (ACC), will discuss how ACC implemented a certification by aligning the BACE with Texas requirements (TEKS).
Moderator: Sandra Porter
Tamara Mandell is the Associate Director for Education and Training at the University of Florida's Biotility. She received her BSE in Biology from the University of Kansas, and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a focus on Biotechnology, from the University of Florida. She has over twelve years of combined academic research and industrial biotechnology experience, and over ten years of experience in the development and delivery of biotechnology-based training. The Biotility team has worked to develop multi-level education and training programs to provide workforce talent for Florida’s growing bioscience industry. Tamara is active on numerous state and national advisory boards for secondary and postsecondary biotechnology education and workforce training; with the goal of promoting high-growth career opportunities to students, developing latticed pathways within secondary and postsecondary education, and supporting economic development and diversification through the growth and maturation of bioscience companies.
Lori Wojciechowski is the Assistant Director of Secondary Programs at Biotility at the University of Florida’s Center of Excellence for Regenerative Health Biotechnology. After completing a BS in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, she moved to Gainesville for graduate school. Lori has an extensive background in academic research with an emphasis on bacterial pathogenicity and antibiotic production. She completed her law degree (with a specialty in Intellectual Property law) at the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida. Lori’s legal background has given her an understanding of FDA regulatory requirements and expectations for drug and biologic development and marketing approval, as well as current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs).
Dr. Fiona McAlister has been a Biotechnology Academy Instructor for Southern Oklahoma Technology Center in Ardmore for the last 11 years. Dr. McAlister has a Bachelors in Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and a Ph. D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the Australian National University. Prior to joining SOTC Dr. McAlister spent 4 years as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and 6 years teaching Biology I, AP Biology, Physical Science and Environmental Science at Lone Grove High School. The SOTC Biotechnology Academy received the OATC Distinguished Achievement Award in 2008 for developing the state model for Biotechnology curriculum. Dr. McAlister was the recipient of the Oklahoma ACTE Teacher of the Year in 2012, ACTE Region IV Teacher of the Year in 2013 and was an ACTE National Teacher of the Year finalist in 2013. In 2015 the University of Oklahoma selected Dr. McAlister to receive the Arch Alexander Award for her significant contributions in the area of program development for CareerTech education in the State of Oklahoma.
Jeff Bush graduated from the University of California with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry/cell biology. He earned a master’s degree in educational technology from National University. In his spare time, Jeff has coached swimming and water polo for 20 years. He has taught for 28 years, mostly in the areas of chemistry and biology (other classes include AP environmental, integrated science, and physical science). After 21 years of teaching in San Diego, 3 years in Hawaii, and the last 4 years in Florida, Jeff started the Industrial Biotechnology program at Vero Beach High school. Next fall Jeff will be teaching the fourth cohort starting the program at VBHS.
Linnea Fletcher Ph.D is the Biotechnology Department Chair at Austin Community College and the Executive Director of the AC2 Bio-Link Regional Center.
Neil Glynn, PhD and Joe Wuerffel, PhD are scientists at Syngenta. Both supervise students who have completed the BACE credential. Dr. Wuerffel graduated in 2014 with a PhD in Plant Biology with specialization in Weed Management from Southern Illinois University and has been working with Syngenta Crop Protection as a Research and Development Scientist. In this role, he performs applied weed science experiments in the field and greenhouse, and works in the lab performing PCR-based diagnostic tests for detection of herbicide-resistant weeds.