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 Tammy Caesar, Austin ISD CTE director. “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

About Austin ISD Career and Technical Education
CTE courses are dynamic and engaging, giving students a platform to find their passion and make a career of it. With options for earning college credit, industry-based credentials and postsecondary awards (like certifications and associate degrees) CTE helps all students prepare for college, career and life.

AISD offers 13 of 16 national CTE career clusters that guide students through a planned program of study. Admission to these courses is based on a student’s interest and aptitude as well as availability.

Instructors are a highlight of CTE —they are talented individuals who are experts in their area of study. Many CTE instructors continue to work in their field while they teach at Austin ISD, giving them the distinct advantage of staying up-to-date on trends and best practices.

About ACC
Austin Community College District is a nationally recognized two-year college serving Central Texas. ACC is focused on student success and providing affordable, flexible pathways to help students reach their education goals, learn new job skills, or advance their careers. The college currently enrolls more than 70,000 students annually. The college is committed to providing a quality education for students in a safe learning, teaching, and working environment for all. Special health and safety measures have been implemented to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of students and employees by containing the spread of coronavirus.