Biotechnology is a collection of techniques that uses living organisms or substances from those organisms for specific applications.
Biotechnology at Ship
Our ancestors used biotechnology when they first began to breed animals and plants, and to make wine and cheese. Now, major techniques of biotechnology include the manipulation of DNA, immunochemical analyses, and cell culture. These and other technologies are drawn from advances made in recent years in the fields of genetics, immunology, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, and other life sciences.
The biotechnology concentration at Shippensburg University is geared to students who are interested in pursuing careers in biomedical research, pharmaceutical research and development, as well as related fields including forensic science. In addition to a broad background in biology, chemistry, and physics, students in the concentration take a series of courses specifically related to biotechnology. Courses in cell biology, immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and a biotechnology laboratory course are included in this series.
The biotechnology concentration has a heavy emphasis on research and developing cell/molecular laboratory skills of the student. Students must complete either an internship or a faculty-sponsored independent research project to meet these requirements.
This concentration is designed to prepare the graduate for entry-level positions in biotech and/or pharmaceutical companies as well as acceptance into competitive post-graduate training programs in biomedical research or forensic science. Our graduates have obtained positions at National Cancer Institute, NIH, Glaxo-Smith Kline, USAMRIID, Johns Hopkins, and Philadelphia Crime Lab, and have gained entry into graduate programs at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins, University of Iowa, Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine, and Arcadia University School of Forensic Science.
Careers in Biotechnology
Careers in biotechnology are available at all levels of education and experience. Individuals with a background and interest in biotechnology can work in a variety of jobs in industrial, governmental, and academic settings. These jobs can be in research, product development, production, quality control, technical writing, sales, education, or administration.
Individuals in these positions are involved in solving problems ranging from the medical to the ecological. Some of the many career areas include:
- Medicine: discovering new drugs, creating new vaccines, testing for diseases, gene therapy
- Agriculture: creating biological alternatives to chemical pesticides, developing disease- and insect-resistant plants
- Environment: bioremediation of wastes, analysis of endangered species populations
- Forensics: identification and analysis of physical evidence collected from crime scenes
- Food Science: production of food products and dietary supplements, nutrient analysis of foods, detection of pathogenic organisms
- Animal Science: genetic improvement of livestock, creation of improved disease treatments
Students at Shippensburg University are frequently involved in research projects under the supervision of a biology faculty member. Students frequently present their research at state and regional scientific conferences. Research projects cover a wide range of topics, including tick-transmitted diseases, characterization of plant pathogens, analysis of genes expressed in brain tumor cells, the genetic basis of behavior in fruit flies, and pathogenic enteric bacteria. Facilities and equipment used by students for their research include a fluorescence-based DNA sequencer, a chromatography system for purifying and analyzing proteins and nucleic acids, an imaging system for analysis of DNA and protein separations, thermal cyclers for PCR, equipment for electrophoretic analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins, tissue culture facilities, scanning electron microscope, a greenhouse, and an animal care facility.
Student internships are highly recommended. They are available through medical facilities, government laboratories, and private industry. Internships are available at Fort Detrick (USAMRIID) for selected students. In addition, Shippensburg University is affiliated with the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, which provides internships in the Cumberland County Forensic Laboratory.