The University of Arizona department of Molecular & Cellular Biology hosted students from 10 different Phoenix, Tucson and Marana high schools on Oct. 31 for their annual “Meet MCB!” event.
“Meet MCB! is our opportunity to share the scientific research of molecular and cellular biology with Arizona high school students,” said Dr. Joyce Schroeder, Head of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
At the event, students toured UA research labs working on cancer research, aging and neurodegenerative disease, while also receiving information on applying to the university and the MCB major.
“Our goal through this event is to showcase the excitement of UA science and give them a glimpse of what life is like as a MCB major at the University of Arizona,” Shroeder said.
All students who attended the event were already linked to the MCB department through the decades-old BIOTECH Project. Through this project, teachers offer high-school students across Arizona hands-on biotechnology experience in professional development workshops, classroom visits, and material and equipment loans.
Dr. Andrew Lettes, biotechnology instructor at Pueblo High School, is heavily involved with the BIOTECH project and attended the Meet MCB! event with his students.
Lettes’ students are currently taking advantage of the BIOTECH project by earning college credit via biotechnology CTE courses at Pueblo High.
This option was first made available in Spring 2013, with the UA MCB department offering three units of credit for two biotechnology courses, MCB101 and MCB102, and for a fraction of the cost: $475 dollars per course. Currently, 12 schools in Pima County offer this opportunity to their students.
“It’s different than a simple bio course,” Lettes said. “It helps apply the science that they learn to real life.”
During their lab tour with UA associate staff scientist Kimiko Della Croce and her team of university students, the Pueblo High School students walked through a series of large posters explaining why individual cells are studied and how the data is analyzed through cytometry. After, the students saw computers processing data from the cells.
Kara Dyson, the senior academic advisor for the MCB department, said in a press release, “By hosting Meet MCB!, we hope to dispel some of the stigma about big universities and show that our department is a big family of people who truly care for their students.”
The BIOTECH project is supported by the UA BIO5 Institute, the Pima County Joint Technological Education District, the Pima County One Stop Career Center, the UA MCB department and the Marshall Foundation, and continue to use their support to help underrepresented populations of students.