PA BioGenius Challenge Winner Heading to California for National Competition

Harrisburg University hosted 2016 PA BioGeneius Challenge on April 25th.  Coordinated by Dr. Leena Pattarkine of the University biotechnology faculty and sponsored by Harrisburg University in collaboration with Biotech Institute , the BioGenius Challenge is one of the most established science competition open to high school students to showcase innovative and original science research projects in Biotechnology.

Twenty-two research projects were selected from across the Commonwealth to participate in the event.

“It was a very close tie between Wesley Sheker and Roy Ghosh for the first position, with Wesley Sheker winning by a few points. With this selection, Wesley Sheker will participate in the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge and the BIO International Convention in San Francisco, CA, June 3-8, 2016. These two events offer Wesley a  chance to compete for cash prizes totaling $20,000. Our hearty congrats to Wesley for his success,” says Dr. Pattarkine.  A former judge at the national and international levels of BioGENEius and with 25 years of research experience, Pattarkine understands how much students put into their projects.

The contest was open to high school students (Grades 9 – 12) enrolled in biology or science related courses in any public, private or home school within the USA. The students will participate in projects in three separate biotechnology Challenge categories: Health Care; Agriculture; Industrial/Environmental.

Winners in the BioGENEius competition will be eligible to attend both the International BioGENEius Challenge and the BIO International Convention in San Francisco, CA, June 5-8, 2016, and have a chance to compete for cash prizes totaling $20,000.

Being able to watch high school students dive into biotechnology is encouraging to Pattarkine, who sees it as a field that has more jobs that applicants in today’s workforce. She knows that without opportunities through programs such as BioGENEius, that some students would never be exposed to the possibilities of biotechnology.

With a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology and has extensive experience in biochemistry, biotechnology, and nanobiotechnology, Pattarkine leads the Biotechnology major at the University and serves as director of the Capital Area Biotechnology Partnership.  She has worked on membranes, proteins, lipids, DNA diagnostics (gene therapy, DNA chips), and protein immobilization for developing them as nanobiotechnological material. She has experience with bioanalytical techniques for establishing structure-function relationships for macromolecules (proteins, nucleic acids). She has also worked with liposomes and reverse micelles as membrane–mimetic systems. She has conducted research in environmental biotechnology project related to uranium bioremediation. She has been a recipient of Pennsylvania’s Keystone Innovative Zone Grant for research on development of a hand-held biosensor for the detection of Methicillin-resistant /Staphylococcus aureus/ (MRSA).

Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Harrisburg University is a private university offering bachelor-of-science and graduate degree programs in science, technology and math fields. For more information on the University’s affordable demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, call 717.901.5146 or email, Connect@HarrisburgU.edu

For more information on the Challenge, visit: www.biotechinstitute.org