Orange Alert

What’s Next? Catching Up with Biotechnology Students

Posted on: May 22, 2024

Student working in a lab.

How do biotechnology students describe themselves after taking part in the program? Versatile! The biotechnology program in the College of Arts and Sciences is noted for its customizable curriculum where students can take courses in biology, environmental sciences, chemistry, engineering, management, public policy and law, among many others, depending on their personal interests. This range of study prepares them for a multitude of research and professional careers, including business and entrepreneurship, healthcare, medicine, laboratory work and public policy.

A&S recently caught up with students who took part in Professor Allison Oakes’ Capstone Seminar for Biotechnology during the Spring 2024 semester to find out what the program meant to them and see what’s next.

Alana Fleming headshot.

Alana Fleming will be completing her graduate year of the 4+1 B.S. and M.S. in Biotechnology program in 2025. She has been a member of Professor Yasir Ahmed-Braimah’s lab, initially working on fruit flies, gaining a proficiency in fruit fly husbandry, molecular biology, computational biology techniques and public speaking. Her research was funded in part by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Civic Engagement (SOURCE) and the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP). A highlight of her SU experience was traveling to Phoenix, Arizona to present her preliminary research project entitled “Application of Chromatin Profiling to Identify Regulatory Divergence Between Species” at the 2023 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Scientists.

Fleming says, “I’ve enjoyed that the major was broad and flexible throughout the past four years allowing me to explore other interests in policy, public health and linguistics. My interests have always been at the intersection of medicine and business from the clinical perspective. I found the most joy exploring how health professionals can resolve issues related to the lack of access to healthcare, investigating health disparities, brainstorming biotechnology innovation targeted for minority and low-income earners, and discussing bioethics principles. The biotechnology program has prepared me to continue to ask questions, stay involved in research and seek out ways to inform others.”

Aryan Arora headshot.

During his undergraduate studies as a biotechnology major, Aryan Arora ’24 developed an interest in dentistry. He worked as a dental assistant at both Dazzling Smiles Dentistry and Amaus Dental, where he gained experience making mouthguards, using x-rays, prepping crowns and scheduling appointments. During a research internship at the Aiash Medical Lab at Upstate Medical University, he co-authored the paper “Adherence to antihypertensives in the United States: A comparative meta-analysis of 23 million patients,” published in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension. His interest in dentistry motivated him to establish the first pre-dental society at Syracuse University. Arora will continue to pursue dentistry and will start at the Touro College of Dental Medicine in New York City in summer 2024.

Arora says, “The biotechnology major allowed me to delve into the entrepreneurial aspects of science. Exploring in-depth the process of product development has been particularly enlightening and engaging. The program’s practical approach is something I find incredibly useful and believe it will serve me well in dental school and beyond, offering insights that are directly applicable to real-world scenarios.”

Elijah Springer headshot.

As an undergraduate student, Elijah Springer ’24 participated in the McNair Scholars Program and conducted independent research under the mentorship of Professor Heidi Hehnly. Working alongside Hehnly, Springer gained experience in cell culturing, immunohistochemistry and fluorescence microscopy. His research was funded by LSAMP and the SOURCE. After graduation, Springer will pursue a master’s degree in molecular biology and hopes to make impactful contributions to the biomedical industry.

Springer says, “The thing I enjoyed most about the biotechnology major is its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. The various number of electives have supplemented my career aspirations. For instance, I took Pharmaceutical and Cells which gave me great insights into the designing and development of drugs and biologics. The biotechnology program has exposed me to independent research, which has been a hallmark to my inspiration to attend graduate school.”

Haley Goodman headshot.

Haley Goodman ’24 took advantage of myriad internship and study abroad opportunities while at Syracuse. Working at Prosthetic Innovations in Eddystone, Pennsylvania during the summer of 2023, she assisted in assembling prostheses and created custom fittings which inspired her to pursue a career in prosthetics and orthotics after graduation. Goodman also worked in Shai Meiri’s zoology lab in the Steinhardt Museum in Tel Aviv, Israel during the summer of 2022, and studied abroad in Sydney, Australia for five months in 2023, taking courses in biotechnology.

Goodman says, “One of the most enjoyable aspects of the biotechnology major was the hands-on learning experience. Through labs and research opportunities, the practical approach to learning has enhanced my understanding of the daily workings of a biotechnologist. Also, there are a range of courses to personalize your academic experience. Working in teams on real-life biotechnological problems has allowed me to apply my knowledge to practical uses enhancing my critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This solidified my understanding, improved my teamwork and communication skills, which are crucial in any professional setting.”

Miguel Guzman headshot.

Miguel Guzman ’24 received a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology with a minor in entrepreneurship. During his undergraduate studies, Guzman was a member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, the Biotechnology Distinction Program and was named a Remembrance Scholar and Young Research Fellow. After working in Professor Davoud Mozhdehi’s laboratory in the Department of Chemistry, he was inspired to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Northwestern University, where he will be building artificial cells and membrane lipids to study membrane-based materials.

Guzman says, “I think the flexibility and versatility of the major is the thing that I enjoyed the most. Taking a range of classes from business to biochemistry gives you a lot of room to try and learn new things. I enjoyed learning a little bit of finance, accounting, biology, entrepreneurship, genetics, and so on. I feel what sets this major apart is that connection with business, something that may seem very far away from the natural sciences, but it’s at the core of any pharmaceutical or the biomedical industry.”