Biology Undergraduate Education held its second-ever BioWeek from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, which featured “useful academic tips, fun programming and a view of what careers the future might hold” for students interested in biology, according to the BUE website. Nineteen events scattered throughout the week focused on community-building, career prospects and other facets of the field of biology.
One of the main goals of BioWeek was to build community within the biology-related concentrations at the University, according to Toni-Marie Achilli, senior lecturer in biology and associate dean of BUE. BUE encompasses ten concentrations through six different departments, Achilli said. She said BioWeek was meant to help biology concentrators think about the concentrations that are best for them, as well as different career options.
“I think the events are really impactful for the first- and second-year students that are coming here, being able to interact a little bit further into the concentration and see how they fit within that ecosystem,” said Achilli. “They can evolve to be in those leadership positions at some point, and learn how to acclimate to Brown.”
“I think another goal — in addition to building community — is to demystify and make sure that all students have access to information and make informed decisions,” Achili added.
The BUE speed dating event had this goal. “The whole premise of this event was so underclassmen could hop from advisor to advisor at a really fast pace so that they could ask really specific questions based on the advisors, specific interests, identities and experiences,” said Olina Mohamed ’24, a BUE student ambassador.
Mohamed helped plan the event with Jeremy Kwon ’24, another BUE student ambassador. Participants were able to talk with the BUE student ambassadors and peer advisors for five-minute intervals in a speed-dating fashion. Topics were not limited to just academics — participants were encouraged to talk about their non-academic interests and identities as well, according to Mohamed.
“The whole point was so that people could look at specific niches and humanize the biology experience,” Mohamed said. “They could ask us questions about how we got to where we are, and how they can do the things that we got to do or even just ask questions out of interest.”
Another event held to help international students in their journeys of concentrating in biology was “Careers in Biology Panel: International Students Edition,” led by Lizi Zhang ’24, an international student concentrating in biology.
“I noticed that there was a lot of misinformation or lack of information about possible career paths in life sciences for international students,” Zhang said. “I wanted to host this event to give international students the opportunity to connect with fellow international students who are currently pursuing different careers in life sciences to bridge that information gap.”
According to Zhang, over 30 students attended and many were able to connect and schedule individual meetings with the panelists even after the event was over. Zhang hopes that students have “an opportunity to form mentorship connections” with other international students who might pursue career paths that they hope to pursue in the future.
Over 90 students attended more than eight events during BioWeek, which was tracked by students’ participation in a BioWeek punch card raffle. Students could keep track of the events they attended through a punch card, and after hitting eight or more events, were entered into the raffle.
Arts and crafts events were among the non-academic offerings in BioWeek. “I really enjoyed the pot painting event,” said Michelle Jun ’27, who was looking to concentrate in applied math. “There are not really the same opportunities in other departments.”
Achilli says the success of this year’s BioWeek could be attributed to the increased promotion around the events, and the larger range of events compared to the previous year.
“I think it was invigorating to see all of the students together and it really makes me excited to be a part of this,” said Achilli. “When we think about BioWeek, even though they’re biocentric events, we welcome anybody to participate and really learn what we have to offer in biology.”
Moving forward, Achilli is excited to host future BioWeeks, with new events embedded in the program. She also mentioned the prospects of organizing a similar event just as “fun and informative” in the spring.