Photos by Rose Krebs.
This year, three new faculty and staff members joined the BIT Program. Becca Selby, our new lab manager, and Rose Krebs, our post-bac, started in the fall and have been supporting the lab courses. Becca helps keep the lab well-stocked and functional, as well as enforcing our lab safety policies. Rose has been assisting Becca, as well as setting up and testing out experiments for instructors before class. In the spring, Dr. Sophie Noel joined as our newest postdoctoral teaching fellow, and has been teaching and co-teaching a few courses as she adjusts to the program.
We launched six new and revamped courses this year. In the fall semester, Dr. Dums started teaching BIT 474/574 Plant Genetic Engineering, which is an updated version of a course we used to offer. In the spring semester, we started offering several new sections of BIT 495/595, including an updated version of Cancer Drug Development and Discovery, taught by Dr. Srougi. We also started offering Environmental DNA Analysis and Applications, taught by Dr. Hasley, and Comparative Plant Transcriptomics, taught by Dr. Sjogren. Dr. Bell, from the Analytical Instrumentation Facility, started teaching Biological Electron Microscopy Techniques. And Dr. Fikes, from the Department of Chemistry, taught Illuminating Disease with Chemical Biology. We also started offering a new semester-long course, BIT 295 Biotechnology and Sustainability, which was co-taught by Dr. Goller and Dr. Sjogren.
In the fall, Dr. Srougi updated her BIT 100 Current Topics in Biotechnology course by participating in the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program, and Dr. Chen did the same with her BIT 402/502 Networking and Professional Development course in the spring. The COIL pedagogy is a framework for encouraging international interaction inside of the classroom, so Dr. Srougi and Dr. Chen both worked with professors from Nagoya University in Japan to update their classes to allow students to interact with their international peers.
We purchased five new pieces of equipment this year to upgrade and improve our courses and research. These include a second EVOS M5000 Imaging System, an automated microscope for viewing fluorescence in cells, and a second SeaHorse XF HS Mini Analyzer, which will be used for metabolic assays. We also bought a new Miro Canvas Digital Microfluidics System, which can be used for NGS library prep; an CFX Opus 96 qPCR machine, which can run up to six colors; and several new Lynx 4000 floor centrifuges.
Our instructors worked with seven NC State undergraduate students, both in-person and virtually, through the BIT SURE program, a part-time, paid, eight-week-long experience. While the program was adapted to a fully online format during the pandemic for summer 2020, the return to in-person research in 2021 allowed students to gain hands-on experience, which many were excited about after the year of online classes. The students also participated in weekly professional development opportunities to expand their scientific horizons in multiple ways. Check out this article to learn more about two of the interns and what students can expect this summer!