News & Events
Dr. Kari Loomis Receives Grant to Revive Biotechnology at Mars Hill College
Mars Hill College has received a North Carolina Biotechnology Center Education Enhancement Grant in the amount of $36,801 to revive the biotechnology concentration and other biotechnology-related capabilities in its Natural Sciences Department. The grant project was developed and written by Dr. Kari Loomis, assistant professor of biology.
The specific goals of the grant are to revive the now-defunct Mars Hill College biotechnology program, and to infuse current biotechnological methods and ideologies into the majors and non-majors biology coursework. The grant also aims to strengthen biotechnology educational opportunities in western North Carolina through a new articulation agreement with Asheville/Buncombe Technical Community College.
According to Loomis, the construction of the state-of-the-art Ferguson Math and Science Center, completed in 2008, and the full renovation of the Wall Science building in 2009, provided a needed boost to the Mars Hill College natural science program. However, further equipment and supplies are required to make full use of these new facilities, especially in biotechnology-related fields, she said. Grant monies will reactivate the biotechnology concentration by allowing the department to buy cutting-edge equipment and supplies.
The new equipment and supplies will benefit biology majors and non-majors alike, as it injects new biotechnology capabilities into biology courses at all levels.
Loomis said that biotechnology is an “extremely broad,” concentration area that will open up numerous career opportunities for students.
“Biotechnology is kind of like the intersection between biology, chemistry and engineering, so there’s an applied aspect to it, which makes it a little more practical than some of the other concentration areas in biology,” she said. “With other concentration areas, for example, the maximum number of job opportunities come to those students who are willing to go on to graduate school. A biotechnology concentration, however, opens up many career opportunities at the bachelor’s degree level, while it continues to provide a good foundation for graduate school if that is where the student’s interest lies.”
In addition to reestablishing the biotechnology concentration area for bachelor’s degree students, the grant also establishes an articulation agreement for students to receive an Associates of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree through Mars Hill and Asheville-Buncombe Community Technical College.
According to Loomis, this is a degree that would focus in a very concentrated way on practical laboratory skills, and prepare students for lab and technical careers in a relatively short period of time.