Biotechnology at JCC: Engineering A Better Future

Did you know that there is cancer research going on right here on the JCC Jamestown Campus? Did you know that your classmates have presented their research at a national conference?

The biotechnology program was created in 2008 largely due to the efforts of Dr. Jacqueline Crisman. Dr. Crisman realized the potential of teaching students to do research in their freshman and sophomore years of college so that those students would be comfortable in a lab setting when they transferred to a four-year institution. Students who chose JCC for the convenience and cost factors now have the opportunity to perform research in a top-notch facility – JCC’s Science Center.

“I love research. Cell and molecular biology [the class] is really where I fell in love with biotech. To see something on a micro scale like that, that works so efficiently and at the same time so collectively, was fascinating” – James Salamone

There are about 25 students currently enrolled in the biotech program. Classes like genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, immunology, and microbiology are core classes for biotech. On top of regular coursework, students have the opportunity to complete undergraduate research for credit. The Deranged Nerd Alliance, better known as the DNA club, is also a major part of the biotech program. The DNA club does fundraisers so that students can travel to conferences and promote biotechnology on campus.

On March 21, 14 biotech students traveled to Bethesda, MD to participate in a Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) conference. The conference took place thanks to a $133,000 supplement to a $3.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This project was spearheaded by James Hewlett at Finger Lakes Community College, along with other educators at the community college level, including Dr. Crisman. The main goal of the conference was to promote using research as a teaching tool in community colleges

“Dr. Crisman has a very exciting way of drawing you into biotech. She [is] just so excited about telling you about biotechnology and the research that goes on here.” – Brittany VanDervoort

Two teams of students actually presented their research at the CCURI conference. Gabe Hyrsenko and Katie Trank presented their work, titled “Analysis of Borrelia in Lipoptena cervi (Deer Keds) as a Model of Infection in the New York White-Tailed Deer Population.” Chayse Langworthy and Andrew Lawrence also presented their work titled, “A Survey of Mosquito Populations For Evidence of Lateral Gene Transfer.”

All student representatives from JCC participated in focus groups where they discussed how undergraduate research has improved their education and their perception of the barriers to research at the community college level. They also had the opportunity to network with other students completing research at their local community colleges.


Gabe Hyrsenko and Katie Trank explain their research at the CCURI conference in March.

Are you interested in the biotechnology program here at JCC? Contact Dr. Crisman for more info!

To learn more about the CCURI program, feel free to check out their website. Photo credits: CCURI Facebook page.

About the author

Kate Ewer

Hi, my name is Kate and I’m currently a sophomore student at Jamestown Community College. I work on campus answering phones at the switchboard and also help out in the President’s Office. I love to sing and have participated in choir and vocal jazz here on campus. In my free time I enjoy listening to music and spending time on my family’s farm with my goats.