GMGI Updates from the Harbor: September 2021

After a busy summer, fall is bringing new milestones to celebrate. 

A new era recently launched at the Academy as we cut the ribbon on the new 3,200 sq ft biomanufacturing learning environment, helped along by a group of distinguished guests. A cohort of 18 students has come together to form the Class of 2022 and begin their 10-month journey to become biotech lab technicians. 

GMGI also hired our first postdoctoral scientist in Kate Castellano, PhD, who will lend her expertise on the popular red sea urchin project.

These exciting developments are a direct result of both the hard work of GMGI staff and the strong support of our community. We are as grateful as we are energized. 

In appreciation, 

Chris Bolzan
Executive Director

GMGI Celebrates Another Ribbon Cutting
 Earlier this month, GMGI was joined by Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Senator Bruce Tarr and others to cut the ribbon on the Academy’s new biomanufacturing learning environment. The celebration took place a short 18 months after the announcement of a $940K Workforce Skills Capital grant from the Baker administration, which allowed for the building and completion of the space.

Click here to read the full press release and here to see photos from the celebration. As Board Chair Michele May stated at the ceremony, GMGI intends to make ribbon cuttings regular occurrences.

GMGI Welcomes Sixth Cohort to Academy
 On September 7th the sixth cohort stepped into the Academy’s teaching lab at Blackburn Center, ready to start their journeys into biotech. The Class of 2022 is 61% female, with over half of the students hailing from Gloucester. 

Students dove right into lab safety training, learning the basics of keeping a professional laboratory notebook, and extracting DNA.

These students will be the first cohort to utilize the new biomanufacturing space and curriculum. They will begin their biomanufacturing curriculum in semester two, by inserting the gene for green fluorescent protein into bacterial cells and learning how to grow the cells in a 2-L fermenter. Wow!

Photos from the Field 
 GMGI Senior Research Associate Tim O’Donnell recently spent the day on the water with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries collecting samples for use in a future sequencing project to analyze haddock diet composition. 

Up Next on the GMGI Science Hour: Dr. Edith Widder
 Edie Widder, Ph.D. is the CEO and Senior Scientist at the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, a not-for-profit she helped found in 2005 to help save the ocean she has spent most of her career exploring.   

Dr. Widder’s talk, “Here be Monsters: Exploring the Edge of the Map,” brought to you by  Engel & Völkers By The Sea, will take us deep into the ocean – places so deep sunlight can’t reach — and reveal creatures rarely seen by humans. Join us on Thursday, October 21st at 7:30pm via Zoom. Click here to register. 

Did you miss Dr. Steve Palumbi and his fascinating talk on coral reef preservation? Click here to watch.

Introducing Kate Castellano, PhD – GMGI’s First Postdoctoral Scientist 

We are thrilled to welcome Kate Castellano, PhD, to GMGI as the organization’s first Postdoctoral Scientist!

Prior to GMGI, Kate was a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut, creating and utilizing genomic tools to better understand understudied marine organisms. Her work, and recently defended PhD thesis, focused on two species of tunicates (commonly known as sea squirts) that are experiencing rapid population explosions due to warming oceans. Her other research focus was on creating a chromosome level assembly for the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab, Limulus polyphemus, an important evolutionary and biomedical species.

“From the beginning, I’ve been really intrigued by GMGI’s ambitious, innovative research goals and how they fell perfectly in line with my own,” said Kate. 

As GMGI’s first ever postdoctoral research scientist, Kate will assist on Dr. Andrea Bodnar’s long-time project studying aging and longevity in the red sea urchin. She’s not only looking forward to using her genomics repertoire on new species and learning new techniques to develop marine species as models for research, but also working with a research team like the one assembled at 417 Main. “Everyone at GMGI is so passionate about their research and I am really excited to be somewhere with such likeminded, enthusiastic individuals,” said Kate. 

Welcome to the team, Kate!

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