Gannon University Students, Faculty Celebrate Building with Biology at Community Center

Posted: September 8, 2017

Erie County children will have the opportunity to learn about the emerging field of synthetic biology and talk with real scientists when Gannon University's biology department and chapter of TriBeta national biological honor society will present Building with Biology, Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Lincoln Community Center, 1255 Manchester Road. The event will be presented in two sessions at 9:30 and 11 a.m.

At the event hosted by the Erie County Library, children will participate in fun, hands-on activities facilitated by scientists in the fields of biology, synthetic biology, genetics or other related science fields. They will design a "super organism" to solve a problem, extract DNA from wheat germ and discuss which future technologies they'd support. These activities are designed to introduce concepts from synthetic biology and to promote informal, two-way conversations between the scientists and visitors about how synthetic biology is interconnected with our society.

The Erie Building with Biology event is part of a nationwide festival of educational programs designed to provide a special opportunity for scientists and the public to interact directly and to learn from each other. These activities and conversations encourage public audiences to share ideas and opinions about how they want to see these new technologies developed and adopted. And scientists, too, have the chance to listen to those views, share their own ideas, and to consider ways public comments can affect their research.

Quyen Aoh, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, said, "The biology department and TriBeta are happy to have the opportunity to introduce the concepts of synthetic biology to a new generation of students.  We hope some of them might be inspired to pursue further studies in biology and to eventually become members of Gannon University's TriBeta chapter in the future."

Steve Ropski, professor of biology, is president of TriBeta, which has more than 670 chapters in 12 districts throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and a membership in excess of 6,500. Gannon's Theta Omega chapter has won TriBeta's annual Lloyd M. Bertholf Award as the outstanding chapter in the country four times since 1962. TriBeta has twice has twice selected Gannon as the site of its national convention

The Building with Biology project is funded by the National Science Foundation and led by the Museum of Science, Boston.