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Harford STEM Division Receives Award from National Science Foundation

03 February 2021

The National Science Foundation has awarded Harford Community College’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) division nearly $500,000 to update its current biotechnology programs, providing Harford County residents with the cutting-edge skills necessary for employment in the growing biotechnology industry in Maryland. 

According to Dr. Pamela Pape-Lindstrom, Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at Harford Community College, “The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of a highly skilled biotechnology workforce. The NSF award will help the College to provide students with the essential skills and technology required to fulfill this need.” 

For more than a dozen years, the Science Education Alliance (SEA) has provided undergraduate students with the opportunity to conduct authentic research early in their academic career. Starting in fall 2021, Harford biotechnology students will engage in a discovery-based project, Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genomic and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES), to identify new viruses, called bacteriophages, in local soil. Bacteriophages are gaining interest as a possible alternative to combat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. The SEA-PHAGES program is a nationally renowned, authentic research experience sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, MD, shown to increase student persistence in STEM fields, regardless of academic preparedness or socioeconomic background. Accordingly, the discovery-based project, SEA-PHAGES, improves the success of all students in a challenging STEM curriculum. 

Harford’s Biotechnology programs are designed for adult learners seeking new industry skills as well as recent high school graduates interested in relatively well-paying jobs in biotechnology or biomedical fields. The certificate program prepares students in the techniques and skills needed for entry-level bioscience laboratory work and a new associate degree will prepare students for transfer to a four-year school. By stressing basic scientific principles and skills, with strong emphasis on analytical techniques and applications, the program prepares students for employment in biotechnology, chemical, and biological laboratories. The program also lays the foundation for more advanced education in the sciences and will allow students with a previous degree in the sciences to obtain the skills necessary for employment in the rapidly expanding biotechnology sector. For more information, contact Jaclyn Madden,