The Office of Biology Undergraduate Education will host its inaugural BioWeek from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 — a series of events that celebrate the biology community on campus and engage the student body in biology-related activities.
BioWeek aims to inform students about biology career paths, academic planning and concentrations in an “informal and creative way,” said Andrea Sobieraj, instructor and advisor at the BUE office.
Sobieraj added that the inspiration for BioWeek came from wanting to condense information about biology-related activities and expand the biology community on campus. “Biology undergraduate education isn't a department, but an academic unit that puts together different concentrations,” Sobieraj said. “Sometimes we need that centralized event so that we can build community within the biological sciences.”
One of the “flagship events” of BioWeek is a pumpkin painting contest and bio trivia competition Thursday evening with Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry Ken Miller, said Toni-Marie Achilli, assistant dean of biology undergraduate education and lecturer in biology.
This will mark Miller’s first return to campus since retiring after the spring 2022 semester. “It was without hesitation that … we thought Ken would be a really good person (to host the event), so we reached out,” Sobieraj said. “He was thrilled to be a part of it.”
Other events will include a discussion on teaching assistant responsibilities, a guide to selecting courses and a two-part career panel entitled “The Future Scientist” that features alums from the biology department at different stages in their careers. The panel is meant to shed light on the diversity of job opportunities available to biology students, Achilli added.
The first part of the panel invites current graduate students and post-doctoral researchers to discuss their experiences in graduate school. The second part, which will focus on industry jobs, will host multiple guests including Mark Roskey, chief scientific and collaboration officer of biotech research company Quanterix, and Kathryn Taylor, who works in U.S. Army labs.
BioWeek was intentionally scheduled between last Wednesday’s concentration fair and the Nov. 7 start of pre-registration for the spring 2023 semester so that students can feel prepared to register for biology classes, Achilli said. Students who attend six or more BioWeek events will be entered into a special raffle, she added.
Each biology-related Departmental Undergraduate Group will also host an information session. Francesca Di Cristofano ’23, a biology DUG leader, said that she is organizing an origami activity on “how to choose between A.B. and Sc.B. … and any concentration-related information and resources.”
Biology peer advisors will also help organize BioWeek events. Max Ulibarri ’23, a biology peer advisor who will help run the trivia panel, said that BioWeek will be a “good time” where students can meet “administrators, deans, professors” and “new people who are taking courses similar to us.”
Both Achilli and Sobieraj hope this year marks the start of a tradition that will carry on for years to come. “Our hope is to keep building off of this, but for what we've put together in a short period of time,” Achilli said, “I'm really proud of it.”