Sophomores in action Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute: A Parent & Community Newsletter

a note from the editor

Volume 2 Issue 2

This issue of the BTI Parent and Community newsletter is dedicated to our new BTI Class of 2022. Now in its fifth year, Carlmont's Biotechnology Institute (BTI) continues to blossom with engaged and enthusiastic students who find that the creative curriculum with the tight knit community makes BTI a unique and valuable educational experience. Our BTI sophomores are quickly learning that too. Just two months into the program, sophomores have already had their first professional event, the science symposium, a trip to the Exploratorium, an opportunity to join in on the Otter Pop and Kahoot and Slimefest lunchtime social events, as well as experience what it means to learn in a cross-curricular, science-centric environment. In addition, having just had our third parent Mix and Mingle event and new parents who joined our BTI Development Committee, our parent community is building and forging strong bonds that are so essential to the continued success of our teens. Let me now introduce you to our BTI Sophomores. Enjoy!

The sophomores are off and running!

Biotechnology 1/2 - Ms. Abdilla & Dr. Kochel

Thanks to the amazing support of the Sequoia school district, the leadership of our fantastic BTI teachers and generous grants from Oracle, Roche and others, Carlmont's BTI labs have state of the art equipment, labs, and resources to provide a top notch learning experience. As we learned from one of the BTI graduates, Alice, in our last edition, "BTI labs at Carlmont are as good if not, in some cases better than what I use at Cornell." Amazing. The initial focus of the Biotechnology 1/2 curriculum is to learn about and master the use of sophisticated equipment. Having completed some practical lab skills, such as learning how to accurately use micropipets, sophomores then learned how to masterfully use a Spectrophotometer, which uses light to analyze the concentration of a solute in a solution. Performing a lab called Lambda Max, students were tasked to identify the best wavelength to analyze solutions of different colors.

First steps towards success!

English 2 - Ms.Gold

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.

European History - Ms. Moynahan

Recently, the sophomores have been studying the French Revolution, Napoleon, and Europe's conservative reaction to the nationalistic uprisings in Europe after Napoleon's downfall. In the very near future, we will introduce students to a research project that they will complete in order to help with an on-going project in their English class, where they will be researching a topic within the domains of biotechnology. In their history class, they will be learning how to research using the school's database system and create an annotated bibliography about their topic, which they may use for further research next semester.

from the sophomore perspective

Why did you join bti?

  • I joined BTI because I enjoy the subject of science. I also wanted a more hands on experience in science. I also liked the idea of being able to connect science with both social studies and English. - AT
  • I like the different fields of biotech and the large range. As well, I am very interested in the befits biotech technology has in improving health. - AB
  • I joined BTI because I liked science and lab work and felt the program could broaden my horizon in college. I also liked that there would be the same people in my classes which makes it easier for me to talk in class. - PT

Describe an initial positive BTI community experience

  • One positive experience in the BTI community is reading "Brave New World." I really like the concept and sci-fi is really interesting to me. - SAA
  • One positive experience in the BTI community is definitely the sense of connection we have within our classes. The smaller classes leads to a more connected environment which I really enjoy. - AT
  • I've made stronger connections with others in BTI and I've learned a lot about biotech careers from the symposium. - JY
  • Everyone in BTI is super friendly and I love the teachers and just the overall community of BTI. - SS
  • I like that we get to do little events during lunch which brings people even more closer and more experiences with everybody and to get to know them even more. - PT

sophomore science symposium

October 18, 2019

Connecting BTI students with accomplished professionals in Biotech and other STEM fields is a core differentiator of the Biotechnology Institute program. BTI sophomores engage 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 a Career Round Table where 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 at each table. Session 2 focused on 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 and thrilled to have such an impressive and accomplished group of professionals participate in this year’s symposium. By generously donating their time and expertise, our students were given information on possible career paths available as well as the tremendous breakthroughs on which many of these companies are working. We are so very grateful for their participation and want them to know that they are making a difference!

Keynote speaker

Gregory Theyel, Ph.D.

Biomedical Manufacturing Network

Gregory Theyel is the Director at Biomedical Manufacturing Network which offers biomedical manufacturing business assistance, technology transfer, and education to grow the biomedical industry cluster.

Individual guest speakers

  • Jeff Tepper, Ph.D., DABT, DSP, Toxicology Drug Development Consultant
  • Jeanne Sole, Deputy Director for power resources for the San Jose Clean Energy community choice program
  • Abhimitha Srinivasan, Data Scientist at Oracle
  • Mina Owen, Software Engineer, Oracle
  • Janice McOmber, Ph.D. in Chemistry
  • Renee Fisher, Associate Director at Gilead Sciences
  • Karen Tuzman, Head of Discovery & Preclinical Content at BioCentury Inc.
  • Angela Anderson, Public relations at SLAC National Accelerator Lab
  • Kathy Brendza, Director, Protein Therapeutics at Nektar
  • Jocelyn Simlick, Scientist 1 at Roche
  • Disha Bahl, UC Davis, Genetics & Genomics
  • Andrea Trese, environmental / civil engineer, City of Los Altos
  • Stephen Cheung, Ph.D. in physics
  • Laura Barde, Research Services Manager / Contracts and Grants Officer at UCSF
  • Walter Tian, Vice President, Commercial Operations, LakePharma, Inc.
  • Ralph Niven, Pharmaceutical Executive
  • Swarna Shikha, an Experienced Doctoral Researcher with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Microbiology, SDS-PAGE, Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, and Plant Tissue Culture.
  • Lauren Foster Wu, Senior Counsel at Roche
  • Lara McGurk, Senior Program Manager, Executive Engagement, Oracle

BTI sophomores at the science symposium


September 17, 2019

Never to old to play, learn, or discover the wonders of science

Sophomore BTI students spent the day in San Francisco at the Exploratorium where, as a class, they started to build bonds and memories while exploring the wonders of our world. Exhibits range from turning light into sound, learning about the climate music project, to watching a Zebra embryo develop from a single cell through timelapse video. The exploratorium also has exhibits on the Mar's rover and what it means to work on Mars time, an exhibit on Henrietta Lacks, the Benham's disk and much more.

Mostly, BTI sophomores had good old fashion fun trying out all the hands on exhibits with their friends!

Super fun day for all!

BTI social events

Otter Pops & Kahoot

Lunchtime game of Kahoot with an Otterpop refresher...what's not to love? This social event is a Fall tradition that encourages social bonding while teaming up with other BTI students to engage in a friendly game of Kahoot!

Yea....bring on the Otter Pops!


Lions and tigers and slime oh my! BTI students applied a cup full of chemistry with a pipet full of ingenuity and a barrel full of fun to make a Halloween batch of slime! Thank you to Ms. Abdilla, Mr. Engberg, and other BTI teachers for their efforts in organizing these events!

A gooey great day!

Upcoming Events

  • November 5 - Mentor Breakfast - Juniors - Periods 1-2
  • November 6 - Science Lecture Series - Diego Rey - Science and Entrepreneurship: Why it’s easier than ever to start a science-based company - 7:00 pm-8:30 pm. in the Performing Arts Center.
  • November 22 - Pie Feast – BTI students are encouraged to bring a pie/dessert
  • December 12 - BTI Study Night - 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
BTI Class of 2020!

BTI parent Mix & Mingle

October 16, 2019

A very special thank you

A very special thank you to Patrik and Oxana Bjornsen for hosting this Fall's BTI Parent Mix & Mingle. This festive event provided BTI parents the opportunity to connect with other BTI parents to share stories, ask questions and get to know each other better. Faith Velschow, BTI organizer of this event said it best. "On behalf of the whole BTI Development Committee, I wanted to say thank you so very much for an absolutely lovely event. The food was delicious and so meticulously created and displayed, I was truly gushing about it to my family when I came home last night. Your home is beautiful and was the perfect venue for all of us, but hiring the guitarist truly took the event to a different level. It was an exceptional party and thank you for all the time and thought you put into it, we very much appreciate it!

A truly fabulous evening!

How you can help


2019-2020 Fundrasing goal: $200,000

BTI requires $200,000 per year to fund the small dedicated class sizes with specialized curriculum, equipment and supplies, programs and events with industry professionals, and enriching trips to science discovery centers/museums and biotech companies. We need your support. By meeting this goal, next year BTI will be able to pay for two dedicated Biotech 3/4 classes with new equipment such as Verniere Lab Quests, pH probes and colorimeters.

Funds Raised to Date

  • Sequoia School District: $75,000
  • Carl Perkins Grant: $46,800
  • Parent Donations to date: $6940
  • Corporate donations: Apple: $1,980, Checkpoint: $1,000, Nerdwallet: $500, Oracle: $7,500, Roche: $5,000, Salesforce Foundation: $540

Parent contribution through caf

We are lucky to be partnered with CAF to facilitate our ability to raise additional funds tied to the specific expenses associated with a unique program like BTI. It is only by building upon the strong foundation that CAF provides that we can offer this specialized college-prep program. The cross-discipline curricular planning, professional integration and amazing field trips have created a strong community for our students with content and experiences that they find relevant and challenging.


We would first like to thank Oracle, Roche, Checkpoint, Nerdwallet and Salesforce Foundation who have already provided a direct donation to the BTI program this year. Their ongoing support to ensure that this next generation of students have the opportunity to build skills and knowledge in the Biotech industry has been essential to BTI's ongoing success. A HUGE thank you from us parents! Check with your company to see if they participate in donation matching!

Contact Information

  • Susan Gold - Co-Director of BTI: sgold@seq.org
  • Jaime Abdilla - Co-Director of BTI: jabdilla@seq.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
  • Kat Eden - Sophomore Parent Rep & Communications Rep: kateden01@gmail.com
  • Cheryl Shelmadine - Junior Parent Rep and newsletter editor: service@copyteclegal.com
  • Jennifer Douglis - Junior Parent Rep: jdouglis@smfc.k12.ca.us
  • Tanya Rianda - Senior Parent Rep: tanya.rianda@gmail.com
  • Gurpreet Padam - Senior Parent Rep: gurpreetpadam@gmail.com

Please feel free to contact any of us if you have any questions, ideas or concerns. You can also 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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