Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School to Establish a DNA Sequencing and Genomics Facility with Grant Award


Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School dual-credit biotechnology teacher Joseph Oleniczak and Austin Community College District professor Kissaou Tchedre have received a $385,845 grant award from the National Science Foundation to establish a DNA sequencing and genomics program at LASA.

The national biotechnology industry has an emerging demand for careers based on DNA sequencing technology. In collaboration with ACC, Austin ISD will develop a DNA Sequencing and Genomics facility to fulfill industry needs for trained technicians in this field. The grant will allow LASA to establish a first-of-its-kind facility run by biotechnology students as part of their curriculum to complete an industry-recognized Level 1 Certificate in Biotechnology from ACC.

"I am thrilled to be establishing a DNA Sequencing and Genomics facility on the Liberal Arts and Science Academy campus,” said Joseph Oleniczak. “This facility will engage my dual-credit biotechnology students in authentic student-driven DNA sequencing research. I look forward to the impact that exposure to this cutting-edge technology will have on my students."

The project will provide equitable access to students on real-world workforce training. Students will learn laboratory techniques, have research experiences, develop 21st-century job skills, receive industry-level instrumentation training, and be exposed to industry and academia as career pathways. As a result, the project will lay the academic and technical foundation for students to enter the bio technician workforce.

Dual-credit biotechnology is one course offered through the Career and Technical Education program in Austin ISD. CTE courses provide students with the academic knowledge and technical skills they need to gain entry to high-skill, high-wage and high-demand industries.

“Providing our students this course as part of the Career and Technical Education program gives them a significant advantage,” said the district’s CTE Director, Tammy Caesar. “It gives them hands-on learning with real-world situations so students are equipped to join the workforce or college after they graduate.”

The project funded by this grant will be a three-year effort starting in May 2021. Oleniczak will serve as the principal investigator of the grant and Tchedre will serve as the co-principal investigator.

For more information, please visit the NSF award notification.