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5930 Middle Fiskville Rd.
Austin, Texas 78752-4390
512.223.4ACC (4222)
Student Success Stories


AAS in Biotechnology at Austin Community College

Rebecca Thomas

Stratagene, now an Agilent Technologies company, is a worldwide leader in developing innovative products and technologies for life science research. We support advances in science by inventing, manufacturing, and marketing products that simplify, accelerate and improve research. Since 1984, our products have been used throughout the academic, industrial, and government research sectors in fields spanning molecular biology, genomics, proteomics, drug discovery and toxicology.

Job duties
I have been working in protein production at Stratagene for the last year. My past responsibilities have mainly included the blending and testing of enzymes for PCR and other genetic manipulation. Currently, I specialize in qualifying enzymes for production and testing enzymes for specific activity. I am in the process of joining Stratagene's protein purification team where I will purify enzymes from cell paste grown in our lab.

My interests have always included research and protein chemistry but I was looking at 4-8 years to get a job with a traditional degree. The biotech program at ACC offered me a great deal of information in a short time as well as hands on experience. The skills I learned and contacts I made allowed me to find work immediately. Now I am learning about the things that interest me most and getting paid for it.

Most rewarding job aspect
I love working in biotech because there is always something new to learn. Stratagene produces products for a wide variety of applications and I am continually offered new and interesting projects.


ACC Biotechnology Program
Completed Certificate of Biotechnology in the fall 2005.

Lahron Dornhoefer

Luminex Inc.
Luminex is a manufacturer of a bio-assay instrument. This is a very powerful diagnostic and research tool capable of analyzing 100 assays in a single well of a 96-well plate. The instrument utilizes flow cytometry/laser photomultiplier detection methods to identify fluorescent dyes capsulated in 5 micron polystyrene spheres. The red laser detects the beads and a green laser detects the presence of a captured molecule. Luminex is a young company with a promising future.

Job duties
I am employed as a QC analyst in the instrument test department. My duties are to evaluate the accuracy of the instrument, and the quality of its construction. I run a series of test with control beads, gather the results, and determine if the results meet the requirements.

After High School I studied X-ray technology but had to put those plans aside to raise a family. I worked in home construction for 15 years and then as a CNC machinist for 12 years. The crash of the electronics industry in Austin caused me to loose my career as a machinist and at the age of 47 I returned to school. I found the Biotech program at ACC to be very challenging, and personally rewarding.

Most rewarding job aspect
It is a good feeling knowing that my job may help to advance the human condition.

BioTechEd High School Interns Summer 2003

Top: Janet O'Conner-Georgetown High School:Becky Thompson, Bradley Neiser-Hays High School:Angela Wheeler, Meagan Miller-Hays High School:Angela Wheeler, Eric Panzer-LBJ High School:Marcie Thiessen, Nicole Basey-Hays High School:Angela Wheeler, Kalyn Horst-Leander High School:Marjorie Palmer, and Kimberly Baran-Cedar Park High School:Leola Knudsen. Bottom: Amy Velchoff-Leander High School:Marjorie Palmer and Vanessa Barrett-Georgetown High School:Becky Thompson. Students not in photo: Andrew Marks-Cedar Park High School:Leola Knudsen, James Willms-LBJ High School:Marcie Thiessen, Paul De La Rosa-Reagan High School:Charlie Guteirrez, Tamika Ware-Reagan High School:Charlie Guteirrez, Valerie Duran-Hays High School:Angela Wheeler
Organized: Student-High School:Teacher

Students were placed at technician level in a variety of companies and academic laboratories, and based on student and employer feedback, the experience was a success. And students reported they couldn't have been successful if they had not taken the high school, Intro to Biotechnology course during the school year. As reported, employers were pleased with student performance and are willing to work with more students next summer. In fact, Dr. Karen Browning of the University of Texas decided to hire the intern who was planning to attend UT this Fall. Kudos to this group of students and their high school teachers!

Companies: Stratagene, Ambion, MD Anderson, Dr. Karen Browning at UT, Dr. Dana Garcia and Dr. Rodney Rohde at Texas State University, Lehle Seeds, Health Department, MicroBac, Luminex, and Esoterix

ACC Biotechnology Internship I Summer 2003

Belinda Carter and Christie Huber

The Internship I course is designed to give 1st year Biotechnology Program students an opportunity to develop laboratory skills in a Industry atmosphere. They do this by prepping for program labs and workshops that are sponsored. This gives the students a chance to work on everything from media prep to troubleshooting new labs. Students are also able to gain organizational skills by maintaining inventory and aliquoting materials so that they are easily set-up at remote locations. We have found that students that take this course are readily prepared for the 2nd year of the program.

FaST Program at ACC

From left to right: Dr. Larry Britton (faculty member), Maria Jimenez, Dr. Tamas Torok (LBL "mentor"), Cristina Ramirez, Aaron Ramirez

FaST is F aculty a nd S tudent T eams, a program sponsored by the U.S. DOE and NSF's ATE program. FaST is primarily targeted at community colleges. A faculty member and students are selected and funded on a competitive basis to spend 10 weeks of research at a DOE national laboratory. The ACC team shown below had the privilege of spending the summer, 2003 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) working in the Center for Biotechnology. The experience was so rewarding that all 3 students applied and were accepted for a 14-week Fall program at LBL. Congratulations to Maria, Cristina and Aaron - three outstanding students in ACC's Biotechnology Program.

Nicole Janette Bono
Biotech Graduate

Nicole Janette Bono Hertel

Nicole Bono graduated from our program in Fall 2002, Presently, she is finishing up her Bachelor's degree in Exercise Physiology at West Virginia University while working at the local area hospital as a EKG tech. She sent the program a letter last week, thanking the program for her training as it helped her land a scholarhip and a slot in a Ph.D. program.

Nicole has been accepted for Fall 04 admission into the West Virginia University School of Medicine's Ph.D. program. During her interview the admissions panel expressed some concern because, unlike many other applicants, Nicole did not have a master's degree. Nicole told the panel what she had learned in the ACC Biotechnology Program. Based on what she said, the panel was satisfied that she was "up to speed" and a worthy candidate for the doctoral program.

Way to go Nicole!

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