InnovATEBIO Community News
September 2022
InnovATEBIO Community News

Welcome to InnovATEBIO Community News September 2022

Welcome back everyone,

It's time to update the InnovATEBIO program pages and schedule ATE project talks.  We will be reaching out to program directors soon with requests for updates.  Anyone with an InnovATEBIO college program and ATE grant is welcome to give an ATE project talk. If your college is not part of the network yet, don't hesitate, join InnovATEBIO as a college program today  It takes about 10 minutes to complete the form and your college will be represented on the InnovATEBIO website.

In the meantime, our community has an abundance of great news!


Sandra Porter, PhD

Eleven InnovATEBIO colleges participate in multi-million dollar grant awards

InnovATEBIO biotech programs on both coasts and one Midwestern city are celebrating this fall with the announcements of large grants to help biotechnology workforce education.  

Two colleges are being funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The other nine belong to coalitions that are being funded through the Build Back Better program.

CIRM awarded roughly $46 million in grants to educational institutions (1).  Only two community colleges received awards: MiraCosta Community College and Solano Community College. Each college is receiving approximately $2.89 million and both are working to increase diversity, equity, and advancement in cell-based manufacturing. 

The Build Back Better awardees are based in four states: New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, and Missouri. Oklahoma is also receiving a life sciences Build Back Better grant but the two community college biotech programs (Tulsa and Oklahoma City) are gone.

In New Hampshire, Great Bay Community College will be among the beneficiaries.  A coalition led by the City of Manchester is receiving approximately $44 million to fund the BioFabrication Cluster (2).  This group seeks to revolutionize health care through the production of engineered cells, tissues, and organs.

A coalition in North Carolina, led by NCBiotech is receiving approximately $25 million for strengthening life science manufacturing (3).  Ten community colleges are participating: Alamance Community College, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Central Carolina Community College, Durham Tech Community College, Forsyth Technical Community College, Johnston Community College, Pitt Community College, Vance-Granville Community College, Wake Technical Community College, and Wilson Community College (4).  Six of these colleges are part of the InnovATEBIO network.

In Virginia, Brightpoint Community College will benefit from a $52.9 million grant designed to the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority to promote US-based manufacturing of essential medicines and critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) (5). This project seeks to alleviate the problems that occur from having 73% of the facilities that manufacture FDA-registered active pharmaceutical ingredients located outside of the US (6).

St. Louis Community College is also a beneficiary.  The St. Louis Tech Triangle is receiving approximately $25 million to help biosciences, geospatial technologies, and advanced manufacturing.

Congratulations everyone! We're looking forward to seeing the wonderful things you learn and benefiting from the knowledge you share with the community.

1.  Stem Cell Agency Invests $46 Million in New Education Program.

2. The BioFabrication Cluster, City of Manchester

3.  $1B Build Back Better Regional Challenge Awardees and Finalists

4.  NCBiotech-Led Coalition Wins Phase 2 Build Back Better Regional Challenge Award

5.  Virginia Advanced Pharma Manufacturing (APM) and R&D

6.  Building Resilient Supply Chains, Revitalizing American Manufacturing, and Fostering Broad-Based Growth, The White House, P. 213 (June 2021).

7.  St. Louis Tech Triangle.

Image credit:

Are you interested in discovering new bacteria and phage in the microbiome?

Phase Genomics is creating a database of phage and the bacteria they infect. Viruses that infect bacteria, phage are the most abundant microbes on earth. At the same time, we know very little about the bacteria that phage infect. Unlike other forms of genome sequencing, Phase Genomics’ technology links phage genomes with their bacterial hosts and can reconstruct both bacterial and phage genomes and their interactions. This is important because the problem of antimicrobial resistance is leading researchers to investigate phage as alternatives to antibiotics. If phage will be used to treat infections, it will be important to match the right kinds of phage with their bacterial targets.

Your class(es) can participate in this project by collecting and contributing a few samples. Phase Genomics is especially interested in poop samples from a wide variety of animals (wild animals, farm animals, zoo animals, exotic pets, iguanas, turtles, fish, and worms). In return, you’ll get lots and lots of genome data that you can use for bioinformatics investigations and discovering new microbial genomes, and new viruses that live in the world around us. A single microbiome sample can provide enough data for years of bioinformatics investigations! Plus, you can identify hundreds of phage-host and plasmid-host interactions.

How will this work?

1. Email me ( with the following information:

  • the name of the faculty member who will be leading the project,
  • the name of your college,
  • and the kinds of samples you’d like to collect and submit.

2. If the samples are promising, Phase Genomics will send you a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) to sign. This guarantees that Phase Genomics has the right to include the data in their database and you have the right to work with the data from your sample and publish results.

3. Once Phase Genomics receives the signed MTA, they will send you a kit for collecting and mailing the sample. When they receive the sample, they will sequence all the bacteria, phage, and plasmids, in the sample and use assembly tools to put the sequences together. In many cases, you’ll get whole genomes of bacteria and phage.

You can read more about this project and read about the microbiomes of two cats: Lil Bub and Danny and take a look at some example data.

Visit a dashboard with the data from Lil Bub. You'll find whole genome sequences, data from viruses, plasmids, and their hosts, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes, and metabolism information.

You can also check out my presentation - Caturday Microbiomes - Thinking outside the Litter Box with Danny and Lil Bub to see some examples of data analysis.

Photo credit:  Cassandra Mitchell-Nothaus

August Algae in Austin

Contributed by Cassandra Mitchell-Nothaus, InnovATEBIO

InnovATEBIO co-hosted the Alage Biotechnology Workshop with ATEC and The Algae at Austin Community College (ACC) Round Rock Campus from August 15-19. It was an intense workshop led by Dr. Schonna Manning, Assistant Professor at the Florida International University, and the Austin Community College Biotechnology Department staff. Participants represented colleges and high schools nationwide.  During the workshop, participants received hands-on training in barcoding a variety of algal species, performing FAME analysis, cultivating algae in small bioreactors, and learning about the value of algae in biotechnology. ACC was able to share finished curriculum products that the Biotechnology Program was charged to develop at the collegiate and high school levels. The fun continued even after the lab activities ended. Participants tried out a new Phycology Game and explored some of Austin’s nightlife.

Participants in the InnovATEBIO Algae workshop, August 2022, Austin, TX. Photo credit: Poornima Rao

Ungrading webinar now online

Last month we shared an announcement from the National Association of Biology Teachers about a webinar by Dr. Gabriel Guzman. Dr. Guzman heads an InnovATEBIO biotech program at Triton College, near Chicago. The webinar, "Ungrading: From Teaching Philosophy to Student Success" is now available online at the NABT YouTube channel.

Data from a study by Chander Aurora, PhD and Parvenah Mohammadian PhD, Los Angeles Mission College, presented at HI TEC 2022

Project-Based Learning - Contextualizing Soft Skills in Biotech

Biotech classes and project based learning are a great combination.  Dr.'s Aurora and Mohammadian share their results from using project based learning in their biotech program at Los Angeles Mission College.

See the data

Share your work!

Do you have a poster or a presentation that you would like to share with the InnovATEBIO community? Consider posting it as a blog at Contact for assistance.

Faculty Opportunity
Photo credit:  Dr. Todd Smith, Digital World Biology LLC

InnovATEBIO webinar: Biomanufacturing is booming!

October 7th is National Manufacturing Day. To celebrate, three InnovATEBIO members will talk about their work on biomanufacturing and biomanufacturing education.

Date and time: Friday, October 7th, 2022, 1 pm Eastern (12 noon Central, 10 am Pacific)
Topics and Speakers:
1. New kits for teaching biomanufacturing concepts in high school
Dr. Jan Chalupny, Shoreline Community College, Cell and Immunotherapy Hub, DUE 2054990

Description:  Dr. Chalupny has been working with high shool teacher partners to develop kits for teaching biomanufacturing concepts in the high school classroom.  She will describe the kits, their contents, and how they were developed.
2. Mushrooms as a model system for biomanufacturing
Dr. James Hewlett, CoPI InnovATEBIO, Finger Lakes Community College

Description: Dr. Hewlett's class and interns have been collaborating with an industry partner on producing products from fungi.  Fungi are being used by a few biotech companies for manufacturing products.  MycoWorks, a company in San Francisco, uses fungi to produce apparel, bricks, furniture, footwear, and leather. Ecovative, in Albany, NY, uses fungi to make bacon, a high performance foam, and a composite materials for construction.

3.  Manufacturing phage in cell free systems
Dr. Bruce Nash, InnovATEBIO, DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Description: Dr. Nash is a CoPI on a new NSF grant with researchers at the University of Minnesota.  The U of M group is working to develop technology for cell-free engineering and biomanufacturing of phage.  A cell-free system for producing phage would be advantageous since it would eliminate the need to produce phage by growing them in pathogenic bacteria. This would also minimize the problems that could result from contaminating a phage preparation with the lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from bacterial membranes.

Register at

InnovATEBIO webinar: Solving the math problem - strategies for teaching biotech math

Students often struggle to perform the math calculations required in biotechnology classes and jobs. It is therefore common for students, teachers, and employers to think that these students can’t “do” math. In reality, average students have the math skills required to perform the majority of commonplace biotechnology calculations. But they have difficulty finding and applying appropriately the math tools they possess. In our upcoming webinar on October 14th, a biotechnology instructor and a math instructor will come together to talk about strategies to help students develop the skills and confidence they need to solve math-related challenges. We will provide specific examples of how we each think and approach performing and teaching calculations. (Spoiler alert: we do not always approach biotechnology math in the same way.)

Presenters: Dr. Lisa Seidman and Rodney Null

Date and time: Friday, October 14th, 2022, 1 pm Eastern (12 noon Central, 10 am Pacific)

Register at
Image credit:  Dr. Ying-Tsu Loh, BABEC

InnovATEBIO webinar: A Toolkit to Implement Supply Chain Biomanufacturing Projects

Description: The supply chain hub has been creating a set of wonderful materials for teachers to implement. The presenters will discuss the current supply chain ATE grant and the ongoing work in developing curriculum and materials.

Presenters: Dr. Ying-Tsu Loh, Dr. Terry Quenzer, Emily Quach

Date and time: Friday, November 18th, 2022, 1 pm Eastern (12 noon Central, 10 am Pacific)

Register at

Mentor-Connect ATE Proposal Support

The New-to-ATE Two-Year STEM Faculty Mentorship Application is now available.  The goal of Mentor-Connect, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) is to develop or strengthen technician education programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The deadline is October 7, 2022 at 11:59 EST so learn more about this amazing opportunity and apply soon!

More about ATE Grant Writing Help
Student Opportunity

MNT-CURN Research Opportunity for Students

The Micro Nano Technology Collaborative Undergraduate Research Network (MNT-CURN) is a unique undergraduate research program for community college students. During an academic-year and two-week summer capstone research experience, you will have the opportunity to work and learn from faculty mentors, baccalaureate research universities and industry partners from across the nation. Learn more and apply!

Micro Nano Technology Collaborative Undergraduate Research Network
Samples of soil with various concentrations of organic carbon and proteins. To learn more read the NSF article "No soils, no life".  Courtesy Credit: National Science Foundation. Photo Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
All events

Important Dates 

Oct 7 Biomanufacturing is Booming!
Oct 14 Solving the math problem - strategies for teaching biotech math
Oct 26-28 ATE PI Conference
Nov 4th ATE PI Conference - Virtual Sessions
Nov 18 A Toolkit to Implement Supply Chain Biomanufacturing Projects
Funding for this project has been provided through the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technology Education Program, DUE 1901984.   Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation, or its partners.
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