Biotechnology majors attain fresh course

Program gains transferable classes, path to employment

By Asma Alkrizy, Staff Writer

Starting this fall semester, Cell and Molecular Biology (BIOSC-147) is part of the biotechnology program.

The BIOSC-147 course, a transferable course required for biology majors, now counts toward a student’s major in biotechnology at Contra Costa College.

Biotechnology program coordinator Katherine Krolikowski said BIOSC-147 incorporates biotechnology techniques into its lab.

“Now every biology major (student) will get exposure to the biotechnology program,” Dr. Krolikowski said.

“(Students) will learn to use up-to-date equipment that we have in the lab,” she said. “That is the advantage of BIOSC-147 being part of the biotechnology program.”

Krolikowski said BIOSC-147 became part of the biotech program for two reasons.

The requirements for the biology major courses had to change because of the course identification numbering system (C-ID), a transfer system designed to ease transfer options for students and revise lower division courses. “It was the perfect time to make that adjustment,” she said.

And secondly, to give biology majors a real life experience in labs. Krolikowski said biology majors did not have enough time to do lab work because of the demanding requirements of their science major.

“I always felt that biology majors did not get the opportunity to actually work in a lab,” she said. “We have all of this good stuff in the lab, but biology majors are so busy with all the requirements they have.”

Biology professor Gregory Ponomareff said the BIOSC-147 course can now be applied for two related subjects (biology and bioscience). Ponomareff said he does not see it necessarily a draw back.

“In fact, I can see it potentially as a plus,” he said. “I suspect this (BIOSC-147) to be closer to what they are teaching in Berkeley right now than the previous one.”

Cell biology major Daniel Ramirez, a student in the BIOSC-147 class, said, “We get to use huge microscopes, FPLC (fast protein liquid chromatography), PH meters, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and other fancy equipment in the lab. However, some of the machinery is unbelievably more complicated than the normal labs I had in my chemistry classes. FPLC was unbearably confusing.”

Becoming a growing industry in the Bay Area, the biotechnology program involves hands-on training and laboratory skills, offering science majors a pathway to explore career options in bioscience while also completing other major requirements.

Engineering major Irina Tabor said, “The (biotech labs) were really more helpful than the labs I took in my chemistry and biology classes. It feels like we’re in charge.”