The BioTechnology Academy is supported by Cougar Initiative To Engage (CITE), the Provost’s Office at the University of Houston.  

BioTechnology Camp by ITECH-STEM

The BioTechnology Academy is a “co-curricular” project designed to provide opportunities for “Service Learning” and “Future Career Opportunity” for undergraduate students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Teaching and Learning, Engineering, Computer Science, and STEM fields at the University of Houston. The project will be hosted by the “College of Education (COE)” and “College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM)” in collaboration, with the help of various faculty ranks and entities, as well as community partners. Specifically, the departments of “Biology and Biochemistry” and “Curriculum and Instruction” will be hosting the program.

The Academy is a yearlong project and starts with a camp consisting of “training” and “service-learning” opportunities spanned across two weeks in the summer semester and followed by a series of “yearlong activities” through the “learning community” during Fall and Spring semesters. During the summer camp, undergraduate students will learn the theory of molecular interactions, biomolecular structures, and molecular dynamics. They will further experiment on these subjects through our computational Biology exercises, which include molecular structure visualization and involving them in a virtual “drug discovery”. For instance, students performed exercises to probe the binding of the “SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp)” to possible drugs molecules in order to gain a good understanding of biophysical and biochemical concepts in proteins and their molecular interactions. It was highly informative and flabbergasting for some students to observe that Hydroxychloroquine indeed does not bind any of these SARS-CoV-2 proteins, but they accurately identified the binding mode of “Remdesivir or Favipiravir” to the RdRp active site.

This “unique, emerging, and high-demand” research is positioned in the interface of “Chemical Biology and Physics”, relatively a new field and is conducted at the Sen’s Laboratory. Through the BioTechnology Academy UH undergraduates would benefit from this “emerging” and “high-demand” research project so they can be ready for career success and make a difference in the future workforce not only by learning this unique knowledge and skills but also by serving their community. After being trained in this research, students will be mentoring and teaching “high school students” in the local community to complete their “service-learning” as part of the summer camp. Undergraduate students will be directly guided and mentored by faculty and their graduate students in supervising, instructing, and using their knowledge and skills while mentoring “high school students” and serving the larger UH community. After the completion of the summer camp, the Academy undergraduates will involve in active research in the laboratories of the Biochemistry faculty and placed in their labs to continue involved in the research during the Fall and Spring semesters. UH Students will be part of the BioTechnology Academy “Learning Community” so that they can also meet other UH faculty, join workshops, and conferences, be informed of internship and research opportunities, and participate in a learning network.

Community Partners:

  • UH-STEM Center
  • Department of Curriculum and Instruction (CUIN) (College of Education)
  • Department of Biology and Biochemistry (College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics)
  • Teacher Education Program at College of Education
  • ITECH-STEM, and CodeCougars (STEM Curriculum),
  • DISTCO (Digital Storytelling Curriculum, Workshops, and Challenges)
  • Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS Program (Outreach to underserved population),
  • ACES Institute at COE (Reaching out to 3rd Ward students),
  • Local school districts: (Recruitment)
  • Faculty from Learning Design and Technology program at COE (Program Development)
  • TEACH Houston (Recruitment)
  • Computer Science Department at NSM (Undergraduate and STEM Experts).