BTI - Carlmont & beyond Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute: A Parent & Community Newsletter

a note from A BTI Graduate

Tea Pusey - UC Merced

Volume 3 Issue 3

Hello BTI Students, Parents, and Alumnus!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Téa Pusey, and I was a part of the first graduating class of BTI! [2018] I am honored to share the amazing impacts BTI has had on my academic path! When I was a student at Carlmont, I knew that teaching was my passion. I loved supporting my classmates through labs and leading discussions in English class. During my summers in high school, I was a camp counselor for a science camp where I actually had the opportunity to teach science! While I still had a strong passion for science and research, I knew that teaching was the career I wanted to pursue. This led me to attend UC Merced for my undergraduate education; this research-intensive campus seemed full of opportunities for me to engage in both research and the humanities, and boy was I right!

I found myself thriving at UC Merced. As a sociology major, we have to take statistics and research methods for sociology. While this may sound completely different than what we do at BTI, research methods are fairly standard. I found myself already familiar with most research methods and ethics used in sociology. Furthermore, many of the statistical analyses we learn to do in BTI are also done in the humanities! As a result of my expertise in research, at the end of my freshman year I was offered a research assistant position in Merced’s Experimental Health and Psychology lab (MESH Lab). Additionally, I became an intern at UC Merced’s Students Assessing Teaching and Learning program (SATAL) where I gained more experience leading research such as observations, interviews, and focus groups. Since I already know the basics for conducting research in a lab, much of my pre-existing knowledge was easily transferrable to the humanities.

While I loved learning about how the world works in my classes and continuing to engage in deep discussions on course readings, I missed the thrill of research and experimenting I had found with BTI. While I had dipped my toes in the water of research through SATAL and MESH Lab, I wanted to conduct my own research. More specifically, I wanted to merge my two passions of science and teaching into my research. While I am not a STEM major, BTI gave me the scientific knowledge I needed to be able to conduct research on STEM courses. I recall sharing with my research team that I had experience conducting PCR, and a graduate student in my lab remarked that she did not even do that until her senior year of undergrad. Without BTI, I would not have a fundamental understanding of science education that I needed to do the research in which I am currently involved.

Currently, I have been a part of two STEM education research teams; the Kranzfelder Lab at UC Merced and a Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I have presented my original research at several conferences, most recently at Stanford, and am a corresponding author to the paper about this research (in preparation!) I am currently working on two other publications related to STEM education research and assessment!. I have found that BTI has allowed me to provide a unique perspective to the research I am involved in. For any current BTI students who are still considering what they want to pursue after graduation- your experience with BTI will be beneficial no matter what path you take! There are so many opportunities to find something you are passionate about, and I have no doubt what you learned as a BTI student will be impactful to you as you pursue your future!

Bring BTI to the Central Valley

Lastly, my most exciting announcement is that I am currently working on developing a BTI-like program for the Central Valley called Central Valley's Biotechnology Scholars (CVBS)! I have been working closely with Ms. Gold and Ms. Abdilla to create the curriculum and have partnered with UC Merced's CalTeach program to implement CVBS! I hope to launch this program in Fall 2021 when I will also be applying to graduate programs focusing on STEM education! For any students wanting to talk more about my experiences in undergrad, please do not hesitate to reach out!

Sincerely - Téa Pusey - tpusey@ucmerced.edu

Welcome! welcome! welcome!

To the class of 2024

We want to start this edition of the BTI Parent & Community Newsletter by welcoming the families of the new BTI students. Class of 2024, welcome to our community! This is a most exciting time, as, in spite of a year-long stint of remote learning, it was a record-breaking year for BTI applications and the BTI Class of 2024 promises to be strong. Our BTI teachers and staff can’t wait to finally meet you in person this August! Exciting!

Being a member of BTI is much more than learning and exploring science, English and history through a well honed project-based cross-curriculum. It is more than taking classes that earn dual credit with Skyline college. It is being a part of a small learning community where students, teachers and professionals all come together to create a comprehensive learning experience. According to BTI students, year after year, one of the most valued components of BTI is the camaraderie that is forged over the three years. BTI has a lasting impact on our teens and for many of them, is a stepping stone for what comes next in college. When asked what one BTI grad, Andres Raddavero, missed most about BTI, he responded, "Everything." In this edition, we are excited to share what our BTI grads are up to in college.

So, to our new BTI parents and in many ways, our current BTI sophomore parents who have been impacted by remote learning too, buckle up and get ready. We are committed to building an engaged and informed parent community, too. We are on track to host a Zoom Mix and Mingle parent event on May 18th and look forward to once again hosting in-person Mix and Mingle parent events next year. We're also looking forward to providing more interesting photos of our BTI teens in our newsletters :-). If you are new to BTI, we invite you to look at previous editions of the newsletter posted on the website to get a better idea of what this program provides. Target earlier editions before remote learning. It is most impressive.

IMportant dates

BTI Graduates continue their journey

Tyler Pau - UC San Diego

I am currently attending UCSD under bioinformatics! Surprisingly, I am in the UCSD bioscholars program, which is essentially BTI for college! It’s nice because the content taught in class focuses on genetic engineering using CRISPR, which was the topic that originally sprouted my interest in science during my first year in the BTI program. Due to the pandemic, I am not living on campus this year but instead I am currently living on my own in an apartment in SF.

Looking back on BTI, I miss the ability to interact with my peers. My favorite thing about BTI was the friendships I made with my classmates and teachers.

Hunter crawford-shelmadine - San diego State

I am completing my third year in the honors program at San Diego State. Having participated in science fairs since middle school, I started out as a Bio major with an emphasis in Marine Biology with the intent on becoming a research scientist. This past fall I had the honor of being chosen for a paid internship program in stem cell research. I and my cohort took a week long training program called Pathways to Stem Cell Science where we learned the fundamentals of stem cell research. I spent the next two months doing stem cell research at Sanford Burnham lab in San Diego doing lung stem cell research. I was given a line of cells that I was responsible for feeding on a daily basis - weekends too. It was a great experience but I realized that being a bench scientist was not my calling. I have now switched to Education and am majoring in child development with an emphasis in Biology and minoring in Interdisciplinary Studies and plan to teach the next generation of students.

What I miss most about BTI is the core group of like-minded students and teachers who are all passionate about science. It was super fun to learn in an environment where your classmates and teachers become your friends and everyone supports one another. I also miss all the fun experiments we got to do where we felt like real scientists! I've made lifelong friends in the BTI program and I miss all the teachers and students so much!

Raven Grinker - UC Santa Barbara

I am in my second year of a biochemistry major at UCSB. Currently, I am the Vice President for the sorority Phi Sigma Rho, a sorority for women in science and technology. Phi Sigma Rho is an organization that gives women in male dominated fields a place to connect and support one another, as well as helping one another find research and internship opportunities. Our philanthropy is actually Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which I noticed BTI is working with as well! Every quarter we plan events to raise money for LLS. This last quarter, we put on a virtual run for cancer and raised $400! We also work with the Girl Scouts of America; later this month, I get to be paired up with a Girl Scout to help her earn her STEM badge. The community aspect and leadership opportunities that BTI had to offer helped prepare me for leadership positions and projects I focus on today. For that I will always be grateful for those three years in the program!

Andrew Land - University of Arizona

I am an honors student at the University of Arizona. Like most of the student population, I am not actually at school but taking classes from my bedroom. In fact I've never set foot on campus even being near completion of an entire year. Despite that I am enjoying my classes, though missing the social aspect.

I'm taking classes in physics, computer science and math. Even knowing the unreasonably high standards that BTI set for lab classes, the online labs here have been rather a let down. The BTI teachers and their literal outreach with the lab kits sounds like a wonderful thing. I hope all the current and incoming students get to enjoy labs properly next year.

To the program at large, especially all the teachers and coordinators, I hope you all get through the pandemic without too much challenge and BTI comes out of it well. If there's one silver lining in this whole debacle it's the hope that more kids will be aware and interested in science and biotechnology in particular.

Jonah Przybyszewski - UC Irvine

Helloooooo! It's certainly been a while now since I think back to the high school days. It's really crazy to see where everyone is going on their path of life. As for me, I have been busy. I am currently an RA and Campus Representative at UC Irvine, being a resource for freshman and giving campus tours. Being in a high mentorship role has been an absolute delight as I enjoy inspiring new students everyday- sounds cheesy but it's amazing to see how big of an impact I am able to make. I have been working an internship at an Electrical Vehicle company for almost a year and a half now in the customer experience space, using my psychology background to help me in this creative area. That has been a dream come true, and the experience I have been able to obtain from working there is unbelievable. Besides school and my jobs, I am working heavily in pursuing the entertainment industry in comedy! I have been busy building in film and media which has been a journey. In my free time I am still playing a lot of volleyball and making a lot of music. I definitely have been all over the place but I am excited to keep progressing from here. Hope everyone is doing well :)

mackenzi RAULS- uc santa cruz

I am going to UCSC and studying engineering! I'm currently taking a class in genetics/the human genome and we've been talking a lot about current events in biology. In one of my assignments we used UCSC's genome browsers to explore the coronavirus datasets and the different covid19 variants which was really interesting. It's also just a really cool platform/resource for visualizing genomic data which reminded me of when we did genetic sequencing of different fish in biomanufacturing. We've also covered a fair amount "BTI topics" like genetic editing, designer babies, bioethics, etc. (but a bit more in depth and on a molecular scale). I'm so thankful to BTI for exposing me to these topics in high school. I feel like I would be a bit lost in this class if I hadn't had Biotech and Biomanufacturing in BTI. I also feel like I wouldn't be as interested :)

Looking back at BTI, I miss the community! I loved having 6th period biomanufacturing with Ms. Burndon. There's something about having science/lab as your 6th period that's really special. I also really enjoyed how small and close knit that class was.

emily mAkeev - UC Davis

During the summer I went back to work at Telomere Diagnostics and helped with covid testing there! Then in September, school started so I left to focus on classes, which is what I'm doing now. I am majoring in biological systems engineering, which is basically engineering applied to the life sciences. The three main areas of focus are biotechnical engineering, natural resources/agricultural engineering, and food engineering, but I haven't decided yet what I would like to focus on.

Covid has definitely impacted my first year significantly. In fact, I haven't even been on campus yet! Everyone has had to be very creative to accommodate the transition to online school, and I've been very impressed with how hard all of the faculty, students, and staff have worked to make the transition go smoothly. Also, the student clubs are active remotely, so it has still been possible to get involved with student organizations even though I am not physically at UC Davis. Overall, I have really enjoyed my first year so far, and I'm very excited to be on campus next fall!

Looking back on my time in BTI, the close community was pretty great!

Mark Esen - Clemson University

I have been busy with my college work 😅. My major is Bioengineering. I have to say that after being in BTI for 3 years made my bioengineering classes seem like high school 2.0.

When I think back on BTI, what I remember most is the community and the friendships I made because of BTI.

violetta garcia-tobar - University of hawaii - manoa

I decided to defer from UH Manoa this year, and I’ve been interning remotely at a HIV research lab called Ndhlovu Laboratory for about 6 months now. They are based in Cornell and UH Manoa. (I’ll be attending UH Manoa this fall). I’m in charge of transferring lab data from different studies they’ve conducted into a database, which then is analyzed and used to publish lab findings/results. Also, in about a month I will be interning at the lab in Manoa, doing various lab tasks. I was planning on studying marine biology, but this internship has made me realize I’m more interested in biotech so I recently changed my major to molecular biology and biotechnology which will start this fall. Oh... and I’ve also moved to the Big Island!

I also wanted to thank BTI because it definitely helped me get this internship just from what I learned about how a lab runs and basic skills like pipetting and gel electrophoresis. When I look back on my time in BTI, I miss labs and collaborating on projects with my classmates.

vincent sy - Chico state

I moved to Chico this fall and made a lot of friends with my roommates and dorm friends. I’m actually going to move in with Andres Raddavero (also graduated from the BTI program) next semester so I’m super excited for that. I miss high school and everyone from high school, but, of course, I’m looking forward to this new part of my life.

When I think back on BTI, I really feel that being in the classroom for three years straight with the same people made it super comfortable to work with them, and I have become lifelong friends with a few of them!

Grace heck - Iowa State

I’m having a great time studying animal ecology at Iowa State! I’ve been working in a lab with a whole bunch of graduate students that are working on cultivating a new type of mung bean. My family has also moved to Arizona so I haven’t been in California for over a year, but I hope to visit soon!

Welcome back BTI Students!

OK...you may have to blink your eyes a few times but YES...here are some BTI students who opted to do in-person learning this spring. It's funny how easy it is to take for granted just ordinary things..like going to school. Seeing our teens engaged in the lab at Carlmont is so refreshing. Here, students are working on an applesauce lab.

Applesauce lab

Inquiry lab - Students were asked to analyze how enzymes work and how much is really needed to maximize production. Using commercially available applesauce, students investigated what concentration of pectinase would produce the most apple juice from the sauce while making the most financial sense. By pooling all of their data together, students had over 400 data points to use when making their final recommendation. Pretty advance thinking!

Student sighting in BTI classes

MacGyver Lab

Most students opted to finish the school year via remote learning. That doesn't stop these students from conducting cool, safe labs at home. In this next lab, MacGyver, students built an electrophoresis set up at home, say like something "MacGyver" would do with the supplies at hand. They were able to successfully separate food dyes by the size of molecules using the principles of electrophoresis, which is the movement of molecules using an electrical current though and agar gel. Pretty cool! See for yourselves!

what else in biotech 3/4 this spring?

Inquiry Lab- Students analyzed the best and cheapest way to spool DNA at home. Using household products, students had to determine the best and least expensive technique to extracted DNA from the wheat germ (the germ of the wheat is what eventually develops into a new plant, so it is rich in DNA).

Final Exam: BTI Junior's final exam will be completed over the course of 6 weeks - students must use all of the skills they learned this year to grow two edible plants, one from seed and one from a clone, using kitchen scraps. Hopefully, there will be a bountiful harvest this summer from our BTI crops. I think it is safe to say, that with some creativity, ingenuity and grit, learning can take place any time, any where!

Skyline College's Biobridge program

Carlmont’s College and Career Center, in collaboration with BTI, hosted Skyline College biotechnology professors Nick Kapp, Ph.D. and Jing Folsom, Ph.D. to speak with Carlmont students about the Skyline BioBridge program. Completing the Biotechnology Manufacturing Technician Certificate/Degree at Skyline allows students to transfer to the bachelor’s program in biotechnology at Solano Community College. (Yes, this community college is offering a bachelor's program, which makes the degree much more affordable!) Solano graduates are guaranteed admission for a master’s degree in biopharmaceutical process engineering at Jefferson University Institute for Bioprocessing. With their dual enrollment credit from Skyline, BTI students are on their way! And by the way, Dr. Kapp co-teaches the BTI biomanufacturing class with Ms. Burndon!

BTi Club hosts John Brunski

The student-led BTI Club invited John Brunski, Ph.D. to speak about his work as a senior research engineer in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Stanford University. Dr. Brunski is a pioneer in the field of bioengineering and Professor Emeritus of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research has largely focused on bioengineering aspects of dental and orthopaedic implant design, bone-implant interactions, and the biomechanics of bone healing. He has received a number of awards for innovation and excellence in teaching and engineering education, including being a member of a 10-person Rensselaer team that won the first Boeing Outstanding Educator Award in 1995. It was such a treat having him speak to the BTI club students!

BTI Valentine's Day Social

will you be my Sciencetine?

BTI students who attended the Zoom Social for Valentine's Day expressed their creative talents by writing science-themed poems. The prompt was to write Sciencetine's—odes or love poems for scientific subjects. The poem in the red font, for example, is for the sun during an eclipse. So not only do their talents reign in the world of science, you can see for yourselves, they are equally talented in the creative arts! So, will you be my sciencetine? :-)

Parents... Join us!

The BTI program has been so successful over the past five years because of its unique combination of dedicated teachers, committed students, engaged parents, and a supportive biotech community. So thank you! As this program continues to evolve, new parents armed with new ideas and experiences contribute to the value and ingenuity of this program. While this has been an odd year for obvious reasons, the BTI crew is ready to start anew next fall and we would love to have your support and energy! How you can contribute....

1. Join our parent/teacher Development Committee

We would love to have you participate in our development committee that meets once a month and provides various levels of support to the BTI directors and the program in general. Our focus is in helping with fundraising, the newsletter, coordinating MailChimp communications, & social media marketing. We are also entertaining ideas on how our BTI students can work with younger students in our community to get them involved in STEM at an earlier age. It is a low level of commitment that makes a big impact, and it is an excellent way to get to know the BTI directors and other BTI parents by becoming involved behind the scenes in your teen's BTI program. If you are interested, send an email to Faith Velschow, Director of Mentoring and Career Services, fvelschow@seq.org. Looking forward to meeting you!

2. Financial support- Setting our goal for 2020-2021

Please donate to caf to support the bti program and other vital Carlmont programs

A fully funded BTI program requires $150,000 per year. Fortunately, Sequoia Union High School District provides at least half that amount every year. The rest is raised by corporate donations, grants and contributions by BTI parents through CAF. By meeting the goal of our fundraising, BTI is able to fund our desired two sections of dedicated BTI Biotech 3-4, which means that BTI juniors have their own Biotech 3-4 classes and unique curriculum. Non-BTI students attend their own sections of Biotech 3-4. Additionally, BTI funds field trips to biotech companies and science museums, costs associated with the symposium and mentor breakfast, equipment and supplies as needed, and a senior outing and graduation celebration. We are very fortunate to partner with CAF, that not only supports BTI, but also supports many of Carlmont's extraordinary class offerings and other needs in order to provide a quality education at Carlmont High School.


Another idea to reach our BTI fund raising goal is to check with your employer to see if they do donation matching. If you are planning on donating, this is an easy way to double the donation.

Contact Information

  • Directors of BTI: Ms. Abdilla at jabdilla@seq.org and Ms. Gold at sgold@seq.org
  • Faith Velschow - Director of Mentoring and Career Services: fvelschow@seq.org 650-464-1162
  • Kevin Marks – President of the BTI Development Committee: kevin.marks@comcast.net
  • Newsletter Editor -Cheryl Shelmadine - service@copyteclegal.com
  • Senior Parent Class Rep - Jennifer Douglis - jdouglis@smfc.k12.ca.us
  • Junior Parent Class Rep - Jennifer della Gatta - jennifer@sfdays.com
  • Sophomore Parent Class Rep - Laura Bierwagen - laurabierwagen@comcast.net

Go bti scots