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STLCC Biology Instructor Participates in Bioscience Industrial Fellowship Project

July 25, 2014

Scott Gevaert  
Scott Gevaert

Scott Gevaert, Life Science Lab Assistant program coordinator at St. Louis Community College, was recently selected to participate in the Advanced Technological Education's Bioscience Industrial Fellowship Project (BIFP) in Winston-Salem, NC.

Gevaert was nominated by Stephen White, dean of Math, Science, Engineering and Technology, and Julie Fickas, chair of the Biology department at STLCC-Florissant Valley.

The purpose of the fellowship is to give community college instructors hands-on lab experiences in biotechnology in order to help them understand and interact with the members of industry that were visited later in the fellowship.

The participants traveled to a variety of community colleges, universities and industries around North Carolina during the fellowship.

“Not only did we visit these members of biotechnology industry, representing pharmaceuticals, regenerative medicine, and the food and beverage industry, but we also interacted with employees to learn more about the application of the science as well as what they are looking for in employees,” said Gevaert.

The ultimate goal of the fellowship is for participants to bring the knowledge gained back to their colleges and classrooms to better prepare students for employment in industry.

“This training will allow our students to have the most up to date skill set, and the greatest resources for preparing them for the workforce,” said White.

For example, Gevaert has created two new laboratories that he will be teaching this fall based on the skills he gained, as well as providing new applications of the skills for students.

“This will help our students gain more experience in a field that is becoming more diverse in innovation and application,” he said.

Gevaert separates proteins using gel

Gevaert said the experience was amazing.

“It is definitely the best professional development I have done in my career,” he said. “The first two weeks of the fellowship were an intense ‘Biotechnology Bootcamp,’ during which we gained hands-on lab experience in DNA technology, protein purification, analytical chemistry, and aseptic technique to name a few.”  

He said the second two weeks of the fellowship were spent visiting academic research institutions and industry.

“One of the most exciting areas of biotechnology we learned about was regenerative medicine,” Gevaert said.

At the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), Gevaert toured the labs and interacted with the researchers working on the projects. At WFIRM, they build biodegradable scaffolds that house the cells of the patient and eventually build the new organ for the patient. Once the cells have filled the scaffold, it is implanted on the patient and given enough time so the new organ is fully functional and the scaffold has degraded into products the body naturally digests.

“It sounds like science fiction, but it is real research that is happening, and it is just one of many applications of biotechnology,” Gevaert said.

The fellowship afforded Gevaert the opportunity to give a keynote address at the BioMan Conference. The title of his address was "Bioscience Immersion: Bringing Industry into the Classroom," and he talked about his experiences during the fellowship.

Gevaert said there is no better time to pursue a career in biotechnology.

“If you want to impact human lives, you could work on new medicines to treat disease, create new organs through regenerative medicine, help solve crimes through forensics, or engineer plants to create edible vaccines,” said Gevaert.

“If you want to improve crops, you could create crops that are more disease tolerant or even more nutritious. If you are interested in the food and beverage industry, you could test the quality of our food and beverages as they go to market, or work in a brewery or winery,” he said. 

“Biotechnology is more than just CSI. It impacts humans and the environment every day, and rewards those with an innovative spirit. Now is the time to get involved,” Gevaert said.