Initiatives designed to cultivate a diverse talent pool of competitively trained biology students in the biotechnology and life sciences industries
The Department of Biological Sciences has launched a bold new strategy designed to help UCSD students increase their educational and training experiences in the life sciences.
In June, the department created the Co-op Education Program (Co-Op) that offers one year of immersive paid training and work experience in an industrial setting. Along with the Co-Op program, the department has also started a Biosciences affiliate program, or “BioCAP,” to strengthen ties with the San Diego area’s deep roster of life sciences and biotechnology companies. To join the collaborative program, companies become BioCAP Partners with an annual membership to invest in training and professional development for future leaders in the life sciences industry. Discussions are underway to include companies from other biotech-rich areas in California, across the country and internationally.
“The goal of the Collaborative Program and BioCAP is to cultivate a rich and diverse pool of talent that will provide a unique and immersive work experience in the life sciences for our students and provide the region’s biotechnology sector with a competitive source of highly trained students from a diverse pool,” said Dean Kate Bogliano, Department of Biological Sciences at UCLA. San Diego.
Since taking the helm in the biological sciences division in 2018, Bogliano has made a concerted effort to strengthen ties with the San Diego group of biotechnology and life sciences companies. The timing of her appointment as Dean has accelerated efforts over the past several years to enhance opportunities for UCSD students to gain work experience in life sciences companies.
Molecular Biology Professor and Collaborative Program faculty advisor Joe Bogliano says the launch of Co-Op and BioCAP is the result of a rising tide of discussions between University of San Diego scientists and life sciences representatives in hopes of redefining the traditional college and industry training paradigm. Many similar training programs feature three-month summer internships. Instead, the new Co-Op provides a one-year internship that provides students with a more immersive work experience.
“The year-round time frame is hugely beneficial to the students,” Bogliano said. “Students really see what it would be like to work in these companies. With more work experience, they learn more skills and become more prepared for their career. This serves the company in terms of helping them find the talent they need to fill key positions.”
Within engineering and other fields, such university collaborative arrangements with industry are common. But this type of program is considered more innovative in the life sciences. The timing of the new collaborative program coincides with the workforce requirements of San Diego’s burgeoning biotech group, which is on a growth curve. Nearly 400 new companies have formed in the past three years in San Diego, and there are 10 million square feet in development, according to Biocom California.
“We have such great companies in San Diego — it’s a hotbed of biotechnology,” Bogliano said. “Of all the universities that are doing this, UCSD is in the perfect position to launch a collaborative program because we have great students, graduate life sciences programs all over our campus and a thriving biotechnology industry hungry to reach these students. So, it’s a win-win.” .
In addition to their exposure to research at a leading biological sciences university, Melissa Hoon, the department’s new director of institutional relations and professional development, says the collaborative biological sciences program prepares students with complementary professional skills beyond their technical and scientific training. Communication skills, critical thinking, writing, interdisciplinary collaboration, problem solving and other assets are integrated into training as part of the department’s innovative professional development curriculum. Cooperative students also receive orientation to faculty and staff during the year.
“Cooperative programs are less common at universities with flagship programs in the life sciences, perhaps because the focus is on research,” said Hon, who also serves as a staff advisor for the collaborative program. “But at UCSD, we focus on both research and industry because this dual approach is ultimately what will prepare a very diverse group of students to secure jobs upon graduation and build successful and meaningful careers.”
The Co-Op program will expand the diversity of students who gain this valuable experience by working through recently launched programs such as PATHS and BUMMP, which are designed to advance the success of underrepresented students in biology and other STEM fields. Other partners include students on Chancellor’s Associates Scholars, which supports outstanding students, most of whom are from San Diego, who have high financial needs. The idea is to prove to these students that opportunities exist in the life sciences industries as they assess their future career paths.
One of the early Co-Op participants is Siara Magee, a fourth-year human biology major and currently at San Diego-based Catalent Pharma Solutions, a drug development and manufacturer.
A first-generation college student, she is excited about the launch of the Co-Op and its ability to advance education and training for new generations of UCSD students.
“With the amount of time it takes to train the intern on the processes they are going to perform, I think it is really helpful to have this kind of program where they can continue throughout the year,” Magee said. “When these students graduate, they will have a clear understanding of what the job and the expectations are. For the company, this new potential employee can come in and all the work you put into them will translate tremendously.”
Find out more about the new Co-Op and BioCAP or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.