Academy graduates gain new skills, build strong relationships with peers

Jean Wessel Templeton with the 2017 Biotech Academy Graduates

Pipettes, petri dishes and plasmid DNA are no match for high school students who just completed HudsonAlpha’s Biotech Academy. The four-week summer learning experience is designed to provide a strong foundation in research lab skills as well as an introduction to the latest discoveries in genetics, genomics and biotechnology.

Students wrapped up the program with presentations of work to their families, teachers and friends at an Open Lab and Reception. Now in its fifth year, the program is possible thanks to the ongoing support and generosity of Jean Wessel Templeton to HudsonAlpha Educational Outreach.

“To maintain our country’s leadership role in science, we need to continue to focus on education,” said Templeton. “Here in Huntsville, we have done remarkable work in space and defense. Now we are doing amazing things in the field of biotechnology. The education group of HudsonAlpha is training future generations of researchers and entrepreneurs who, I believe, will continue the work of those currently blazing this important path toward improved human health and quality of life.”

“Biotech Academy is one of those programs that really allows students to jump into the lab and gain valuable experience that will serve them well for their careers,” said Neil Lamb, PhD, vice president for Educational Outreach.

At the Academy, students learn basic molecular biology techniques; discover how to identify plant and animal species based on their DNA sequence; study the concepts of genetic engineering by producing and purifying red fluorescent protein; and delve into the emerging field of synthetic biology. Additionally, academy participants visit research labs and associate companies at HudsonAlpha to explore the various careers and professions available in the field of biotechnology, exposing them to world-class scientists and cutting-edge technology.

After completing the program, one student said, “The thing I liked best about Biotech Academy is the diverse lab experience and wide range of experiments that we were able to do.  The instructors explained each lab well, and I feel this experience has prepared me for future lab work.”

Graduates say the academy provides more than valuable academic knowledge and career skills. They also build life-long friendships with students from other schools in the area who have similar interests.

To attend Biotech Academy, students must attend one of the 18 participating schools and be nominated by their school’s science department. While the cost per student for the program is $1,500, because of Templeton’s philanthropy this opportunity is provided at no cost. To learn more about Biotech Academy and see a list of eligible schools, visit

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