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J.F. Webb students experience biotech innovation at Vance-Granville

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LOUISBURG, NC (November 7, 2023) — On October 27, Vance-Granville Community College’s Franklin Campus welcomed students from Oxford’s J.F. Webb High School for a hands-on biotechnology demonstration.


The two dozen students who traveled to Louisburg and explored VGCC’s biotech laboratory became the first high school group to utilize some of the college’s latest equipment. Used for nucleic acid sequencing, the new lab equipment was funded by the U.S. Economic Development Association’s 2022 Build Back Better Regional Challenge award.


Dr. Andrew Pais, instructor for Bioprocess/Biotechnology, led the day’s in-depth DNA sequencing.


“In a matter of five hours, students experienced the entire process of identifying unknown samples from DNA, starting with the operation of lab equipment needed to process samples and ending with a computer workshop on how to convert physical DNA into a readable sequence,” Pais explained. “I’ve done plenty of science outreach in my academic career but never at this depth and scope of content covered.”


Students also had the opportunity to learn about biotech industry careers firsthand. During a lunchtime session, Stephanie Luther of Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global lab equipment supplier, highlighted some of the many life-changing career opportunities related to the field of biotechnology. VGCC prepares students for such careers through programs that range from approximately two months to about two years, depending upon the level of credential desired.


“There has never been a more exciting time for students to be involved in biotechnology training programs at VGCC,” observed Stewart Lyon, Vance-Granville’s program head for Bioprocess/Biotechnology. “We are so fortunate to have great industry partners like Thermo Fisher Scientific who guide and support our biotech programs. Their involvement is testament to the amazing career opportunities that exist within biotechnology-related industries.”


The VGCC Bioprocess/Biotechnology program welcomes other school groups to plan field trips to the lab and expose their students to biotech activities and careers. If you are a school leader interested in planning a visit, or if you are searching for a great career path in this field, contact or 252-738-3632.




Caption for photo “VGCC welcomes JF Webb 10272023.jpg”: Dr. Andrew Pais, instructor for Bioprocess/Biotechnology at Vance-Granville Community College, guides visiting students during a lab exercise.


About Vance-Granville Community College: Established in 1969, VGCC is one of the 58 institutions of the North Carolina Community College System. With a service area the size of Rhode Island, VGCC is the local source for higher education and training in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties. VGCC offers more than 40 curriculum programs, as well as Continuing Education, High School Equivalency, and Adult High School Diploma programs.

Contact: Courtney Cissel, Public Information Officer • • 252-738-3484

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