Do You Love Biotechnology? The Biotech Club Is the Place For You!

Are you a student at NC State? Do you want a way to learn more about biotechnology and to connect your peers who want the same? Well, the Biotechnology Club may be the place for you. It aims to provide a space for students from all backgrounds to learn more about and engage with biotechnology.

Felicia Shepard (back right) and Daiza Norman (front left) serving as BIT Ambassadors alongside faculty and staff in the BIT Program during a high school outreach event in February 2020.

From the beginning, the Biotechnology Club was intended to bring together students from different disciplines to appreciate biotechnology. “I wanted to create an environment that people across multiple majors could share in my love for BIT,” Jordan Bischoff, the first president of the club, said. Having a club like this exposes students to the full range of fields that biotechnology encompasses and allows them to appreciate the opportunities that exist for them. Jordan said, “I have always found BIT so interesting because it encompasses so many areas of life sciences and applies them all to big ideas.” Similarly, Felicia Shepard, the second president and founding member of the club, likes biotechnology because of how broad it is. “It spans across all disciplines of science and… NCSU was lacking a club that could bring together students who were interested in biotechnology,” she said.

Before COVID-19 shut everything down, the club held a wide variety of events, from tours to speakers to hands-on activities. Last school year, for example, the club took a tour of the nearby company Diosynth Fujifilm and did a DNA extraction project. Since being thrown online, the club has resorted to mainly speakers and panels, though there have been a few more interactive opportunities, such as a trivia night, co-hosted with several other science clubs. Though Zoom fatigue has become very real,  the club has managed to continue to reach new members, bringing them in to connect with a field that has only grown since the beginning of the pandemic.

A recent meeting collaboration between the Biotechnology Club and the STEM Journal Club, held over Zoom.

One of the things that makes biotechnology such an appealing subject is its practicality. Classes taken through the Biotechnology Program have direct applications in graduate school or a career in industry, and the club has always strived to reflect that in its programming. Daniel Hyder, current treasurer, said that he enjoys learning about biotechnology and “the opportunities available in the industry.” The club often hosts speakers from various areas of the biotechnology field who talk about their work and their educational and professional path. “It’s really cool to hear about what they are doing and their work,” Daniel said. While Daniel is most excited by the potential applications of biotechnology to cancer biology, Felicia is grateful that biotechnology allows her to combine her passions for agriculture and molecular biology. And Jordan is interested in the ability to potentially solve the problem of climate change. He said, “I just think that humans are only able to innovate and “rationally design” so much, but when we take a step back and look at the way nature does it, we can accomplish things previously thought to be impossible.”

In a time where biotechnology has only continued to rise in prominence and importance, the Biotechnology Club at NC State is providing opportunities for students to learn more about the field and what possibilities are available to them. To learn more about the club and how to participate, check out their Get Involved page and Instagram account!