I began the Certificate in Biotechnology program my junior year here at Roger Williams University, initially because I thought the certificate would be useful. It was a brand new program and our class was the first group of students to start the mandatory 38-credit program. Sixteen out of the required thirty-eight credits were also required for Biology majors in general, due to classes such as BIO 102: Biology I, BIO 200: Genetics, CHEM 191: Chemistry I, and CHEM 192: Chemistry II so it was a perfect fit into my schedule to finish the remaining classes. Initially I was not sure what to expect entering into the program, as I did not anticipate the upper level classes required for the certificate to necessarily pertain to my other fields of study. However I quickly found the exact opposite to be true, as in every class I have taken since, topics that pertain to biotech are constantly being brought up.
One of the best aspects of this program is that you get hands on experience that is useful in other classes such as Virology, Developmental Biology, and Microbiology to name a few. It can be anything as simple as running gels and western blots to performing PCR. And wherever your interests in Biology take you, it is a safe bet that biotechnology will impact you at some point. Out of the classes required for the certificate, my favorite was BIO231 Bioethics with Dr. Espinosa. While there are many courses at the University pertaining to social ethics, this particular class attempted to look at issues in the world from a scientific and social stand-point. We debated topics such as genetically modified organisms, obligatory vaccinations, health care issues, energy crises, and scientific literacy in the United States. It is my personal position that every science major should be required to take this class as it combines a wide range of scientific issues in relation to their real-life application, social consequences and efficiency in communicating their take away message to the public. Allowing scientists to be well rounded and base their opinions on a variety of variables instead of pure scientific facts, as is often true in real world issues.
As a senior I am finishing my last seven credits for the certificate program and am currently enrolled in Dr. Marston’s BIO 370: Virology lecture. A word of advice – if you get a chance to take a class with Dr. Marston, absolutely take it. She is incredibly passionate about what she does and the fact that her research is focused on the discovery and evolution of viruses helps to enrich the class. Currently we are discussing immunizations and immune response pertaining to different viruses. This provides a classic example of biotechnology’s influence from the technology used in gene therapy, virology research assays, and the discovery of vaccines.
Although I find viruses to be extremely interesting, the research I have worked on looks at the antioxidant enzyme characterization of the plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, also known as the CAM Ice Plant. Throughout my undergraduate research, I have found taking biotechnology classes to be to my advantage as they help prepare you for the various independent assays you will have to learn in your independent research projects or internships.
B.A. in Biology
Minor in English Literature
Certificate in Biotechnology