Future Laboratory Researchers Gain with Signing of Biotechnology Transfer Agreement
Article by Mike Bratten
A year and a half after enrolling in the biotechnology program at Del Mar College (DMC), Danial Nasr Azadani is authoring a paper on a virus he discovered that will likely be published in scientific journals that are seen throughout the world.
“This is usually what you learn in grad school,” said Azadani, 24, who attends DMC and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi simultaneously. “The biotechnology program is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. It has put me on track to become a laboratory researcher.”
More good fortune came Azadani’s way this fall when a new articulation agreement went into effect making DMC’s biotechnology introduction courses, BIOL 1414 and BIOL 1415, transferrable for the first time toward certain bachelor degrees at TAMUCC.
On Nov. 1, Dr. Beth Lewis, DMC Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, and Dr. Kelly Quintanilla, President of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, signed the biotechnology articulation agreement at a ceremony in DMC’s Garcia Science Building.
The agreement, in the works for about a year, streamlines the transfer process for students like Azadani, who plans to graduate next year with an associate’s degree in biotechnology from DMC and a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences from A&M-Corpus Christi.
BIOL 1414 and 1415 are now transferrable toward a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in biology (cell/molecular), B.S. degree in biomedical sciences (pre-professional) and a liberal arts degree in university studies at A&M-Corpus Christi.
Previously, BIOL 1414 and 1415 were transferrable only for liberal arts majors who took them to satisfy core science requirements, said Dr. Jack Southard, DMC Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences.
The expanded transferability was needed because unlike traditional biology courses, BIOL 1414 and 1415 delve into biotechnology and cutting-edge laboratory research.
These courses offer a lot of hands-on experience that you don’t get in traditional biology courses .This is one of the reasons we thought this was a seed we could plant and it would flourish. Students can still take the standard biology track. But if they want to be a biologist, the kind that goes into the lab and does research, then these courses will be perfect for them.
The majority of DMC’s biology majors transfer to A&M-Corpus Christi, Southard added.
“I’m planning to do lab research in the medical field,” said Lorie Leyva, 40, a graduate of DMC’s biotechnology program who is pursuing a B.S. in biology at A&M-Corpus Christi. “I have friends and family members who have been affected by cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. People are getting affected faster and faster. We need more people working on research.”
BIOL 1414 and 1415 helped accelerate her career plans, Leyva said.
“It helped a lot to transfer the classes. I didn’t feel like I was wasting time and money, and I can graduate sooner and start the career I’m striving for.”
An early advocate for the transfer agreement was Dr. Jeffrey Turner, assistant professor of Marine Biology at A&M-Corpus Christi. Turner has worked closely with DMC professors Dr. Daiyuan “Daisy” Zhang and Dr. John “Rob” Hatherill to develop internship opportunities for DMC biotechnology students.
“Del Mar has this perfect population of students that are primed for success and just waiting for the opportunity,” Turner said. “Our job as faculty is to tear down the obstacles and make the transition as easy as possible for them. That’s what this agreement does.”
Turner, who supervises Azadani’s research at A&M-Corpus Christi, added that he attends biotechnology conferences around the country and the quality of research presented by students from DMC is equal to that presented by students from major universities.
Last June, Azadani and three fellow DMC biotechnology students won first place in the Community College Innovation Challenge, a prestigious annual competition sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Science Foundation.
The group’s project involved a tailor-made virus, which they named EnteroSword, that can be used to combat harmful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Each member of the team received $1,500 and an opportunity to network with scientists, politicians and business owners who could advance their careers.
Turner said he hopes the transfer agreement grows into an even larger bridge between DMC and A&M-Corpus Christi, perhaps generating grant funds to support an increased number of students pursuing careers in biotechnology.
“There are a lot of opportunities for students to work in the biotechnology or biomedical research industry, or at a government or university lab. These students aren’t going to have a problem finding a job.”
For more information regarding DMC’s biotechnology program, contact the Department of Natural Sciences at (361) 698-1224 or log on to http://dmc122011.delmar.edu/nsci/index.html.
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Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.