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University to dedicate biotechnology lab

mbruun | Tue Apr 2, 2024

Fitchburg State University will cut the ribbon on its new biotechnology research laboratory and host a panel discussion on the present and future of the life sciences in Massachusetts on Wednesday, April 10.

The biology and chemistry laboratory investments were made possible by a $750,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

The event will include poster presentations by undergraduate students who have engaged in research sponsored by the Moderna Charitable Foundation. The day’s programs will conclude with a MassBioEd networking event for undergraduate students and industry professionals.

The programs will be held in the university's Antonucci Science Complex at 333 North St. The events start with a ribbon-cutting at 2 p.m., followed by a panel discussion at 3:15 p.m. and the career fair at 4 p.m.

“We are excited to celebrate the opening of this new laboratory space and to share the research performed by our undergraduate students,” said University President Richard S. Lapidus. “These life-changing opportunities and resources were made possible by generous support from our partners, and we are thrilled to show them the impact of their gifts.”

The grant-funded laboratory equipment will serve all biology and chemistry students, as it will be incorporated into all aspects of the curriculum, from introductory core classes to upper-level electives and independent research. The modernized equipment will give faculty the ability to train students in some of the most sought-after biotechnology skills. 

Students will also be better prepared for workplace experiences, including internships. In addition, the grant will also serve students taking the newly formed data analytics minor, allowing Fitchburg State to develop new coursework to diversify its offerings and attract more students to this growing field. 

The research grant, facilitated by the university’s Biology and Chemistry Department, targets traditionally underserved populations to engage students in mentorship and high-impact practices as an undergraduate research community.

The program is designed to help students navigate a post-COVID higher education landscape by increasing the retention and graduation rates of traditionally underserved populations. 

Receiving a stipend and academic credit, the student research fellows will work 10 hours per week, receiving one-on-one mentorship and instruction on cutting-edge techniques in their fields of interest. 

Participating students are paired with faculty mentors to conduct credit-bearing research. The students in the program are paid for all aspects of their work, including performing experiments in the lab, analyzing data, preparing  for weekly presentations, and career development activities. 

At the end of the Spring 2024 semester, the 12 students in the inaugural cohort will present their work at the university’s annual Undergraduate Conference for Research and Creative Practice on April 18, as well as a statewide research conference.