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BCLA's Annual STEM Summit

On Thursday, December 13th, BCLA hosted in collaboration with ThermoFisher Scientific, BioscienceLA, Seismic and STEM Preparatory Schools our annual STEM Student BioTech Summit. This program was tailored for high school and early undergraduate students, who are interested in pursuing a career in biotech or STEM-related fields and the focus. Our outreach initiative this year was aimed to uplift and inspire underrepresented students in STEM to connect them with resources via panel discussions and specialized workshops that will enable a successful career.

The Summit was kicked off by an introduction from Sonia Setayesh, Director of Strategic Operations at BCLA who previewed BCLA and spoke on the changing ecosystem for biotech in Los Angeles. Peter Brescia, Sr. Technical Manager of Immunology and HLA at ThermoFisher TDX, transitioned with an overview of the history and work Thermofischer is doing, where he highlighted their transplant diagnostic ventures.

Following these introductions, our keynote speaker Dr. Derrick Morton, assistant professor of molecular biology and computational biology at USC, took the floor. Dr. Morton began his speech by going over his journey into science and research and what passions drove him to academia. Coming from a small town in Kentucky, Dr. Morton gained research experience as an undergrad at Eastern Kentucky where he was inspired to pursue a PhD at Clark Atlanta University which led to a postdoctoral opportunity at Emory University and ultimately his professorship at USC. Today Dr. Morton studies how to model human diseases that result from mutations in genes encoding subunits and RNA exosomes. One of the key points that Dr. Morton emphasized during his talk was the necessity for diversity and representation in academia, which he is actively practicing in his research. Though he is establishing his lab at USC, he already has 7 lab researchers with growing numbers each year.

The program was then followed by a Career Panel, composed of a group of brilliant panelists: Dr. Anthony Covarrubias, assistant professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, Gisela Brock, Sr. Manager of Quality Assurance at ThermoFisher Scientific, Leilanee McCarns, Technical Applications Specialist II, Molecular biology at ThermoFisher, and Rudra Persaud, PhD Student in Chemistry at USC. The key takeaways from our panelist were: understand your strengths and weaknesses and how to market your assets, learn to network and discover new opportunities, and never be afraid to ask for help or opportunities. After this panel, the STEM summit broke for lunch where students had the opportunity to network with panelists and speakers.

After lunch the STEM reconvened for two simultaneous breakout sessions. The first virtual breakout session was hosted by Scismic and covered CV and resume building tips and tricks. The second in-person breakout session was a Meet and Greet mentorship assembly from our panelist and speakers at different round tables. Alongside these, attendees were able to attend info sessions with the ThermoFisher TDX and BioScience LA.

If you are interested in participating in BCLA's future outreach endeavors please contact us through email or via our social media platforms.

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