BEP Class of 2017

Biotech Explorers

A First-Year Ampersand Program

Discover how science innovations make their way into the real world.

Biotechnology is truly interdisciplinary and draws on biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, computer science, management, public policy, and law.  The Biotech Explorers Pathway (BEP) introduces students to the fundamental science behind biotechnology and what it takes to move discoveries from the laboratory into the real world.  The BEP connects science, business, technology, and engineering at the start of undergraduate studies, highlights how scientific discoveries lead to useful applications, and engages curiosity through team-based inquiry that guides students from examples toward idea generation and project development.  The first-year courses are a portal to the second-year project development and transition to capstone experiences fellowships for the summer between sophomore and junior year.

Why should students take this course?

The BEP is a chance for students to see where science and the real world connect and how the fundamentals of intro STEM courses are applied by local biotech companies. BEP courses focus on small group interactions among students with diverse interests and backgrounds as they look at the St. Louis biotech community through case studies and field trips. From start-ups to big companies, the BEP offers a chance to see how science helps solves problems.

What will students get out of this program?

BEP students see how the 'basics' of introductory STEM courses are relevant in the world of biotech and how the sciences, arts, business, and engineering are a pallet for innovation and discovery. Having stories of science helps students understand how the collection of concepts of intro courses fit together. The first two BEP courses focus on science and entrepreneurship and culminates with a third course that lets students pitch ideas and then work as a group to design a scientific project. Taking first swings at big ideas helps students see why they are here, how to communicate their ideas, and how peers can help them learn.

How will this program help students to refine or define themselves and their goals?

Science is as much a language as a way of thinking. Having students become comfortable with that language as they share ideas and explain what companies are doing is a key part of realizing that there is more to science than just research and medicine. There's a lot of creative thinking and work needed to take the spark of an idea to a tangible product -and that often needs people who can speak the languages of science, art, engineering, and business.

Hear What Students Have To Say:

Samantha Clevenger

"I always thought that I would major in science and enjoy it as part of my undergrad education and experience, and then go on to work in business or something more conventional. I didn’t have the confidence to think that I could go and get my PhD in a hard science, but I became more and more interested in the idea throughout the program...I am now a senior applying to PhD programs, and I don’t think that I would have taken this path if I did not participate in BEP."

Ishaan Shah

"The Biotech Explorers Program started off as something I did because I was interested in learning more about the Biotechnology industry, however, it transformed into much more. Through the class, I was connected to students, faculty, and professionals who were passionate about science and helped me learn about every aspect of science in the real world from academia to law to policy toindustry in a variety of fields."

Alicia Wilkening

"BEP shows you the reality of being a working scientist you won't see anywhere else on campus and exposes you to a different application of your studies, commercial research, you aren't normally exposed to by academic researchers."

how to apply

The application process for first-year programs and seminars opens on Tuesday, May 15, at noon (CT) and closes on Tuesday, May 21, at noon (CT). There will be a link to the application webform on the First-Year Programs homepage during this time for you to sign up. Additionally, BEP requires an application essay that can be submitted when you apply online. For the essay (no more than 500 words), you will need to answer the following questions: (1) What is your motivation for joining the BEP? (2) How will the BEF experience fit into your educational goals? (3) What strengths will you bring to the program?

First-Year Programs homepage

The Biotech Explorers Pathway

First Year

Bio2010:  The Science of Biotechnology (Fall semester)
This introductory course lets students see the science and real world applications of biotechnology.  This course also serves as the gateway into the BEP.  Over the semester, students explore basic science concepts and how discoveries lead to biotech applications addressing global challenges.  Student teams will develop short case studies of St. Louis biotech companies to understand the connections between science and biotech business.  A series of "site visits" showcase science in action and introduce students to the St. Louis biotech community.

Bio2020:  Biotechnology Entrepreneurs Seminar (Spring semester)
Biotech is science-based, but the risks of product and technology development, legal issues, and market pressures make the landscape full of uncertainty.  This second semester freshman seminar course provides students with an appreciation of how biotech companies achieve their goals by engaging students through interactions with experienced executives and entrepreneurs, whose shared knowledge and stories add depth and context to the learning process. 

Second Year

Bio3010: Biotech Project (Fall semester)
As a sophomore in the BEP, students participate in a team-oriented project development course.  Students apply skills learned during the first-year of the BEP to understand the process used to generate project ideas, write proposals, and evaluate concepts, apply peer evaluation at all steps of the process, and work individually and as a team for researching and developing projects.  Bio3010 is a writing-intensive course and satisfies the Arts & Sciences WI requirement.

Transition to Capstone Experiences Fellowship (Summer)
Students completing the BEP curriculum are eligible to apply for fellowships supporting summer activities that transition to upper-level synthesis/capstone experiences in their fields and based on their long-term career interests.