Meet the sophomores Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute: A Parent & Community Newsletter

A note from the editor

Volume 1 Issue 2

I know from personal experience that the first year my daughter entered the BTI program in 2015, I was curious to learn more about the program and what made it special. We dedicated our first issue to providing you with a broad overview of Carlmont’s Biotechnology Institute program as well as a retrospective view into some of the accomplishments that our BTI students earned. In this issue, we take a look forward by providing you with a window into our new BTI sophomore class. While it is early in the semester, these students are off and running!

  • In English II, BTI students have wrapped up a unit on the ethics of selecting the characteristics of an unborn child. They are now immersed in Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World, which tells the story of a future dystopia that uses genetic engineering to manufacture and control its citizens.
  • In Biotech 1/2, students are learning standard lab operating procedures (SLOP), including how to make solutions and how to use equipment like micropipets and spectrophotometers. They are also working on a stock project looking at Biotech companies and how they perform over 14 weeks as well as practicing recording data in a legal scientific notebook that would be admissible in court in cases of patent or research disputes.
  • In Social Science, our sophomores recently wrapped up a unit about "a new way of thinking," about the Scientific Revolution and Age of Enlightenment. In this unit, students completed a project that was a reflection on the Scientific Revolution and introspective into our modern technological revolution. Students examined issues, often deemed controversial, completed research on their topic, made a slide show, video, or "protest" poster about it, and shared what they learned (pros/cons, current controversy, and their own thoughts) about their topic to a small group of 3-4 other peers. Currently, we are in the French Revolution Unit, which took ideas from the Sci Rev and Enlightenment and applied them to the needs of French citizens during the late 1700s/early 1800s. We are going to soon be doing a case study of the guillotine: why was it so popular, how it demonstrated enlightenment ideals and the technological advancements from the scientific revolution, and what it ultimately led to.

Scientific Revolution Projects

Keep in mind, the purpose of this parent and community newsletter is two-fold: 1) to share with you the innovative and exciting learning and development opportunities our BTI students experience as they unfold and 2) to build a vibrant, enthusiastic, and involved BTI community. We are fortunate to live in an area surrounded by science, innovation, and engagement. We have the opportunity as parents, community leaders, and educators, to continue to expand and grow this unique BTI program by becoming involved. We welcome you, your ideas, and your participation.

Join Us!

What Our sophomores are saying...

Why did you join BTI?

  • To spice up my school year and also I enjoy science in general, so I felt like it would make my school year more fun and interesting. - KH
  • Science is one of the only subjects I was really interested in and excited about learning. Having multiple classes based around science was almost a dream come true. - AW
  • I was intrigued by the idea of being in a small, tight knit, community of people who enjoy science just as much as I do. - SO

Describe one positive Initial BTI experience

  • The BTI students have a lot of the same classes, so I've made a lot of new friends. I like how some of the classes are smaller and there is more 1 on 1 time with the teacher. - RR
  • Already, each of the teachers are extremely supportive and so are all of the students. Everyone wants to learn and everyone who is in the program chose to be in the program so it is just a very positive and beneficial learning community. - NS
  • I like having a community of people that you know well and knowing that any one of them are able to help you if you need. - EW

Sophomore symposium

October 4th, 2018

Connecting BTI students with accomplished professionals in Biotech and other STEM fields is a core differentiator of the Biotechnology Institute program. Our annual Sophomore Symposium was the first event where sophomore BTI students met with invited professionals on campus to discuss cutting edge information on science, technology and career path options.

The symposium was divided into two sessions. Session 1 was Career Round Tables. Professionals at each table discussed their career path including their educational background, a brief job description and the pros & cons of their field. Students spent 15 minutes with each professional and then rotated to the next. Session 2 was Hot Topics. During this segment, professionals spoke on a current hot topic in their field. They introduced the topic, provided a bit of background information needed to understand the technology, its promise, and any ethical issues regarding its use.


We were honored to have an impressive and accomplished group of professionals participate in this year’s symposium. By generously donating their time and expertise, our students were able to take their first step in this program to consider just some of the possible career paths available to them. We are very grateful for their participation!

This year’s key note speaker was Dr. Mayasari Lim, CEO SE3D & Leadership Teaching Faculty at UC Berkeley.

Individual Guest Speakers

  • Dr. Chris Cahill, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center - Pediatric Hospitalist
  • Dr. Barbara Troupin, MD, MBA a biotech executive, previously held the position of Chief Medical Officer with Aquinox Pharmaceuticals.
  • Manohar R. Furtado -Ph.D. Founder & President of Biology For Global Good LLC; Chief Scientific Officer & Chief Regulatory Officer of Apton Biosystmes, Inc.; A member of Life Science Angels and a board member of Lexagene.
  • Evan Susser - Portola Pharmaceuticals, Senior Director, QA
  • David Passmore, RubrYc Therapeutics, Inc. - Head Of Commercial Operations
  • Jeff Tepper, PhD, DABT, DSP, Tepper Nonclinical Consulting - Jeff has also been mentoring for 10+ years!
  • Fred C. Christians, Ph.D., Karius, Inc. - Molecular Biologist and founding team member
  • Peter Eugster, Karius - Head of Hardware Engineering
  • Darlene Buhrow, Roche Molecular Solutions - External Community Relations, Corporate Philanthropy and Employee Giving
  • Elizabeth Baxter, Roche Molecular Solutions - Head of Corporate Communications, Roche Sequencing Solutions
  • Jim Lamascus, Oracle - Sr. Applications Consultant / Strategic & Major Accounts, Human Capital Management Applications
  • Rachel Yu, Oracle - Account Manager | Oracle Hospitality Global Business Unit
  • Abhimitha Srinivasan Bharadwa, Oracle | Marketing Digital Labs- Data Scientist
  • Jamshed Ghandhi, Novartis - Site Manufacturing Science & Technology Head
  • Barry Rowland, Novartis, San Carlos - Head of Operational Excellence

symposium snaps

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all our guest speakers. You make all the difference!

BTI Social Events

BTI Club

The BTI club meets each Friday at lunch in Ms. Gold's room, T2. This is a student-driven club, and the club officers—a president and two vice presidents were elected in the spring.

At the meetings, students deliver presentations on hot topics in science and also facilitate fun science-related games and activities. They also invite professionals from various fields of science and technology to be guest speakers. Once a month they hold a potluck, and once or twice a year they plan an after-school, on-campus social event to build community across the grade levels.

Raising Funds at the snack shack

This year, BTI students have volunteered to staff the Snack Shack at Carlmont's football games in order to raise money for the BTI Club. This opportunity was offered by BTI senior parent, Kathryn Zorb, who runs the Snack Shack. Thank you Kathryn!

Beginning of year Social - Notebook decorating

Ms. Abdilla hosted a notebook decorating social event to kick off the new school year. Just one of the many ways that BTI builds community.

Save the dates

  • Mix and Mingle for BTI parents - October 18th - 7:00 to 8:30 pm - hosted by Kevin and Leslie Marks
  • BTI Graduation Class of 2019 - Carlmont Performing Arts Center on June 5th - 6:30

Fall Schedule of Events

  • October 9th - California Academy of Science - Juniors
  • October 18th - Mix and Mingle
  • November 6th - Junior Mentor Breakfast, 9:00 am in Student Union
  • November 7th - Science Lecture Series - Chris Bakan, Head of Sequencing Bioinformatics, Roche Sequencing Solutions
  • November 13th - Exploratorium - Sophomores
  • November 27th - Giving Tuesday - Please remember to make your donations to CAF and BTI.

How you can help


The BTI Development Committee and the BTI Co-directors have been working hard to solidify this year's annual budget of $150K. To date, we have confirmed $72k, but need an additional $78K to offer all of the incredible opportunities that make up the true value of the BTI program. With your help, we hope to exceed this number and reach our goal of $105K. Imagine what we can do!

BTI families contributing to the Carlmont Academic Foundation (CAF) are now able to direct a percentage of their donations to the BTI program. We encourage you to give significantly to CAF and BTI. CAF’s support is essential to the existence of BTI.

Corporate Donations and Grants

In addition to family contributions, the BTI Development Committee and the BTI Co-directors continue to seek grants and corporate sponsorship to support the cost of the BTI program. Donations of lab materials are also welcome. If you have any leads, please contact Ms. Abdilla at jabdilla@seq.com

super sophomores

We, the BTI Co-Directors and members of the BTI Development Committee, want to welcome our new sophomore parents to our BTI community. We are impressed with these students and excited to watch how the unique talents and personality of this class unfold as this year of learning and exploration continues.

Stay tuned for our next issue that will feature our BTI Junior class!


  • Susan Gold - Co-Director of BTI: sgold@seq.org
  • Jaime Abdilla - Co-Director of BTI: jabdilla@sep.org
  • Faith Velschow - Director of Mentoring and Career Services: fvelschow@seq.org 650-591-7502
  • Kevin Marks – President of the BTI Development Committee: kevin.marks@roche.com
  • Cheryl Shelmadine - Sophomore Parent Rep and newsletter editor: service@copyteclegal.com
  • Tanya Rianda - Junior Parent Rep: tanya.rianda@gmail.com
  • Kim McGreivy - Senior Parent Rep: kmcgreivy@live.com

Please feel free to submit articles, stories and/or photos to the editor of our Parent & Community BTI newsletter. We would love to feature what your amazing BTI student is up to!

Go BTI Scots!

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