Public Affairs

CSU Biotechnology Showcased in the Silicon Valley

Commander Victoria Vachon, a uniformed member of the US Public Health Service, discusses her career in a variety of federal agencies that protect the nation's health.
Commander Victoria Vachon, a uniformed member of the US Public Health Service, discusses her career in a variety of federal agencies that protect the nation's health.

January 12, 2012
By Erik Fallis

Photo Essay: Symposium Sessions and Research

More than 600 researchers, mentors, students and faculty from across the California State University system came together this month to showcase CSU excellence in the sciences and technologies that comprise biotechnology.  The Twenty-Fourth Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium provided a chance for participants to share knowledge and build relationships.

Taking full advantage of the symposium's Silicon Valley location, the CSU partnered with the BayBio Institute to identify industry leaders to advise students as part of a career networking session.  Executives, project managers, laboratory scientists, investigators, uniformed health officers, risk managers and marketers all spent an afternoon coaching students on how to navigate the broad employment opportunities in biotechnology.

"Current and former CSU students are discovering new medicines and devices, exploring the therapeutic use of stem cells, engineering environmental solutions and expanding the horizon of life science," said Sheryl P. Denker, senior program advisor at the BayBio Institute.  "An investment in their success pays great dividends for California and human health."

Throughout the symposium, the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology announced $40,000 in awards to students, faculty and campuses in order to recognize and support outstanding work in life science. 

"The symposium provided a forum to demonstrate the great research happening on our campus," said Melissa Kaye Jones, from Cal State Long Beach, who received the Don Eden Graduate Student Research Award for her exploration of genetic similarities of a species of fly and humans that may lead to cheaper and faster tools for diabetes research.  "I started working in my faculty advisor's lab as an undergraduate, which is an opportunity that is very unique to students attending the CSU."

The amazing accomplishments of students like Jones depend on CSU faculty who balance the roles of researcher, teacher and advisor.  Feimeng Zhou, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Cal State L.A., embodied this balance.  Zhou received CSUPERB's Biotechnology Faculty Research Award with an invitation to lecture on his research into tools that can generate images and search for biomarkers at the molecular level.  His presentation was full of attributions to undergraduate and graduate students who participated in the research, and have continued in the field with great success.

"The process of research and scientific mentoring transforms students.  They gain confidence, drive and an understanding of their potential," said Zhou.  "Published papers can be quickly forgotten, but the impact of a faculty mentor on a student lasts for decades."

The symposium certainly celebrated research and discovery, but it also celebrated the education practices and educators that help students succeed.

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Additional 2012 Award Winners

  • Andreoli Faculty Service Award
    William Tong, San Diego State
  • Glenn Nagel Undergraduate Research Award
    Behrod B. Katebian, CSU Northridge
  • Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Award
    Erick Morales, CSU Fullerton