A New Year Blooms New Students into the Spring Semester

As per tradition, the MS Biotechnology Program at Georgetown University welcomed new students, the Spring 2021 Cohort, into the Biotechnology Program. Like the Fall Semester, new ambitious and eager students were welcomed to the Biotechnology Program on January 11th, 2020, virtually due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The event was hosted by the program’s very own Program Manager Karen Brotherton-Julien. She was joined by various administration, adjunct faculty, returning students, and of course, the new incoming students. As the new year rolled around to welcome the new students, they were also welcomed and introduced to new leadership within the Biotechnology Program under the guidance of Drs. Ivica Labuda and Kyle DiVito as the new Director and Associate Director, respectively. (Read more about the Program’s new leadership here). The Spring 2021 New Student Orientation gave everyone, both new and returning students, the opportunity to acclimate to the virtual world and begin yet another semester in the Biotechnology Program.

Meet Some of Our Spring 2021 Cohort

Olivia Driscoll |BioBusiness Track

Olivia Driscoll is a DC native. Having lived in DC throughout her life, Olivia joins the Biotechnology Program in the Spring Semester on the BioBusiness Track. She received her Bachelor’s in Molecular Toxicology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was introduced to the biotechnology industry during a class project. Olivia’s project included creating a potential product of interest focusing on developing male birth control. This exposure to the biotechnology industry allowed Olivia to connect the dots between developing a product and creating a biotech company. After completing her undergraduate degree, Olivia entered the corporate world, working at a FinTech company on a Healthcare focused team. While at FinTech, she worked with publicly traded companies and their Investor Relations teams and used C-suite to analyze shareholder information and market trends within biotech, medtech, life science, and other subsectors of the healthcare industry. Throughout her experience in this role, she realized she wanted to go back to school, yearning to learn more about the biotech industry, specifically its business side. Olivia wanted to better understand why the healthcare industry behaved the way it did, and this curiosity motivated her to join the Biotechnology Program at Georgetown University. 

Currently, Olivia is enjoying the Entrepreneurship Biotechnology course, where the science she is familiar with integrates itself with her experience in the business. This course introduces students to biotechnology and entrepreneurship’s various intersections, including developing a product and creating both a business plan and biotech company in this endeavor. Olivia sees this as a great opportunity as students in the class can grasp and eventually pursue a company on their own in the near future. She is also fascinated by the Introduction to Bioinformatics class where she has learned of the many of the available resources including databases such as UniProt, which is used to identify and research specific proteins, thus giving her a preview of the current tools the biotechnology industry uses to develop new products. 

While only being with the Program for a few weeks, Olivia looks forward to taking more business courses, such as Financial Matrix. She is also interested in the Biotechnology Program’s Capstone Internship as she is open to any possibilities, searching for new positions and opportunities. Specifically, Olivia is interested in exploring reproductive health and companies that are working with biomarkers and diagnostics. Lastly, Olivia expresses her excitement to meet and get to know her current student cohort from networking and learning together with a group of intelligent and like-minded ambitious individuals and eventually impacting the biotechnology industry and healthcare.

Rohan Wolcott |BioBusiness Track

Rohan Walcott is another new student from the Washington D.C. area, joining the Biotechnology Program on the BioBusiness Track. Before joining the program, he attended Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania as a biology major on the pre-medical track. During his final year of college, as a part of his senior-year capstone project, he studied the development of chorioallantoic grafts on chick embryos and the nature of the chorioallantoic membrane assay assay in tissue engineering as a potential future of regenerative medicine. His time spent doing benchwork and reading peer-reviewed journals gave him insight into the sheer amount of information that the scientific community had, yet, he realized, so little of it was being used. “I felt like we have a lot of answers, but they weren’t being applied to society,” he recalled. It was this realization that inspired Rohan to enter the field of biotechnology. He wanted to challenge the status quo and help scientific innovation better acclimate into society. 

Upon discovering Georgetown’s Biotechnology Program website, what caught Rohan’s attention was the variety of experiences and backgrounds from which the students had come. He grew confident in his decision to apply for the program when he read about the students’ internship experiences in drug discovery, academic research, pharmaceutical industry, and more. “[The articles] really helped me see what kinds of people are in this program,” he remarked. Through his time in the Biotechnology Program, Rohan hopes to apply what he learned as an undergraduate and gain experience in the business end of biotechnology. In the future, he is interested in exploring business development for start-up companies in the biotechnology industry. 

“Camaraderie” is a word Rohan used frequently when describing his outlook on friendship and mentorship. He looks forward to meeting faculty members and the rest of the students in the cohort and making genuine connections with them by attending virtual events like “Friday Happy Hours,” hosted by the program’s executive board. Outside of meeting new people, Rohan enjoys reading, exercising, and playing the trumpet. Right now, he is working on “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong, which he begs his classmates not to ask him to perform during the next Happy Hour event! 

This year, twelve new students will be joining the twenty-fourreturning students, as they once again enter yet another semester virtually. The program’s returning students, who already had one semester of virtual learning under their belts, will happily show the new students that they’ve made the right choice in joining the program. While not something everyone planned, the program will continue to run virtually. However, this semester, under the guidance of public health officials from the School of Medicine, we are happy to report that the University has permitted a limited number of students to attend in-person laboratory classes, allowing the program to proceed a step closer to normalcy. Regardless, whether virtual or in-person, the Biotechnology Program at Georgetown University will continue to do what they do best: prepare students to become leaders in the biotechnology industry. 

Written by: Neil Ichiro Laruan and Lina Oh

Contributions by: Olivia Driscoll and Rohan Walcott

Edits by: Kyle A. DiVito, PhD