Conestoga news

April 25, 2022 8:04 AM

Biotechnology Technician program hosts tenth annual symposium

Conestoga’s tenth annual Biotechnology Research Symposium and Awards Ceremony was held April 8 and featured student presentations covering topics relevant to biotechnology's diverse and changing landscape in Ontario as well as a student awards presentation.

“We’re about championing innovation and excellence and we're always looking at our partnerships in the community to make sure we serve everyone well and ensure our students are the best graduates out there. This symposium really celebrates that,” said Dr. Veronique Boscart, executive dean, School of Health & Life Sciences, as she welcomed students, members of the college community, Program Advisory Committee members, industry partners and friends and family members from around the world to the symposium. “From a School perspective, the Biotechnology program is highly respected with a great team leading change and supporting students -- and I’m very proud of that.”

Before students shared their projects, keynote speaker Dr. Shane Miersch, senior research associate with Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto, provided a presentation on modular design principles for the development of therapeutic antibodies to treat COVID-19. Dr. Miersch also shared his academic journey and reminded students in the program that the foundation for his career began at St. Clair College in Windsor.

“The two things you should always have are confidence and curiousity - and hopefully by the time you emerge from this program you have acquired those two key elements of study and learning. If I had one piece of advice for you to all adopt as you embark on the first stages of your career, it’s that learning is a lifelong endeavour,” said Dr. Miersch. “The world is changing more rapidly than ever and in order to really keep up with it, I urge you to continue both working in this area of biotech as it’s a fascinating sector of study, but to continue learning.”

Student groups shared their research presentations which included a range of biotechnology topics: bioremediation of nitrogen contaminated wastewater using anammox bacteria, current trends in carbon capture using microalgae, CRISPR-Cas9 applications to reduce disease and increase farm animal products, and potential biotechnological application of bacteriophages against bacterial infections, among others.

Following the presentations, students Garret Coulter, Haley Edwards, Alireza Habibi and Alison Mackay received the Biotechnology Technician Research and Teamwork Award for their presentation on gene therapy for epidermolysis bullosa treatment.

The following awards were also presented:

  • Biotechnology Technician Year 1 Leadership Award: Sherri-Lyn Cranston
  • Ontario Agri-Foods Technologies Year 2 Biotechnology Technician Leadership Award: Deepkanwal Mundra
  • Syngenta Canada Inc. Exceptional Leadership Award: Brianna Simpson
  • Jamie Lumsden Memorial Award: Jack O'Toole
  • Biotechnology Technician Program Contribution Awards:
    • Rebekah Harman
    • Katherine Taugher
    • Jack O'Toole
    • Brianna Simpson 
  • Biotechnology Industry Partner Award: Dr. Chris Harder, Kenota Health

Conestoga’s two-year Biotechnology Technician diploma program provides students with the laboratory skills, technical knowledge, fundamental understanding and employability skills for careers in biotechnology and life science industries. Training includes practical and technical instruction in several areas including biology, biochemistry, microbiology, analytical chemistry, cell culture, molecular biology, and computer applications.