On September 12, Young Women In Bio-RTP visited Biogen for the annual “Back to School” event. 22 middle school-aged girls attended the event along with three YWIB volunteers. The event began with a discussion led by Amanda Marvelle on chromatographic separations and how chromatography is used every day at Biogen when manufacturing therapies. The girls learned that chromatography is a method used to separate, isolate, and purify components of mixtures.
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To complement the discussion, the girls did a hands-on experiment in pairs to learn how chromatography can be used to separate the different dyes in grape Kool-Aid. Next, the girls heard an inspirational talk from Dr. Adriana Rimesso, who discussed her journey to becoming a scientist starting with her childhood in rural Mexico and ending with her scientific research experiences in the US and other countries. After, the girls were given a tour of the Biogen campus with stops at the analytical labs, quality control labs, and the manufacturing site.
The girls were very curious during the tour, asking many questions about the equipment they saw and relating what they saw to their science class as well as their relative’s jobs. In the manufacturing area, the girls were able to observe 2,000-liter bioreactors as well as the purification suites used to produce antibody therapies. The event ended with a pizza party where the girls had the opportunity to talk to female scientists who work at Biogen to learn about the day to day life of scientists.
This event was also special because we had around 16 girls attend the event from UNC Pembroke Project 3C’s Indigenous Girls in Stem program. The group traveled from Robeson County and surrounding counties for the event. (Thank you for traveling so far to attend our event.)
Special thanks to all the Biogen employees who volunteered their time to put on another great event and Amanda Marvelle, the Biogen Community Lab Leader, who helped plan and organize the event.