Friday Seminars

DEB/ECH294 - Current Progress in Biotechnology

Note: One quarter of the elective seminar course, MIC292, may be substituted for one quarter of DEB/ECH294.  In all, DEB students must complete three quarters of seminar, though the seminar courses do not need to be taken consecutively. The Friday seminar course is offered each academic quarter (fall, winter, spring) on Friday mornings at 11am.

Students in engineering graduate programs should register for the ECH294 course and students in all other graduate programs should register for the DEB294 course. It is the same seminar class, but cross-listed for these two course codes. 

For Friday seminar location, we will be primarily in-person in Room 1022 Green Hall (formerly Life Sciences Building). Occasionally, we will have a speaker who chooses to use Zoom for their presentation and class will not meet in person on these days, which will be noted in the course syllabus and/or announced in advance. 

Course Description and Format

Each quarter, the Current Progress in Biotechnology seminar series will bring biotechnology professionals from both private and public sector organizations to talk about a variety of topics in health, agriculture, natural resource management and other biotech-related fields. Speakers may touch on: new biotech R&D directions; the role of public-private partnerships in innovation ecosystems; regulatory and intellectual property paradigms governing translational research; the role of team science and interdisciplinary collaborations in solving complex problems; and the speakers’ career journeys.

Class is scheduled for 50 minutes, though the Q/A session may occasionally add a few minutes. Students interested in building professional networking skills are encouraged to attend an external (non-UC) speaker lunch. Networking lunches are funded by the Biotech Program with help from supporting Colleges.

As a courtesy to our invited speakers, as well as abiding by grading requirements, please plan to attend all of the Friday seminar sessions. External speakers are making a significant “in-kind” donation to the DEB by traveling from the Bay Area and other locations to speak to our class. For all speakers, we hope to provide an engaged audience that participates in the Q/A. This is our opportunity to showcase UC Davis students and develop professional relationships that may ultimately help to support our DEB282 internship course and outreach efforts. Please do your part to warmly welcome all of the DEB/ECH294 guest speakers.

As with all campus courses, we expect students to abide by the UC Davis Code of Academic Conduct, which can be found at:

Assignments and Grading

For enrolled graduate students, this course is graded S/U, with a Satisfactory (S) grade requiring accrual of at least 78% of possible points (B-). For enrolled undergraduate students, this course is graded P/NP, with a Passing (P) grade requiring accrual of at least 68% of possible points (C-). Grades will be based on attendance and submission of a required final writing assignment.

Attendance – One Absence Allowed:  To pass the course, students may only miss one class session and must sign in on the roll sheet each Friday, starting on the first day of class, to verify attendance.  In addition to speaker seminars, the first lecture does count as a class session.  If you miss the first class, you may not miss any additional classes during the quarter without planning to make up the second absence. The course instructors must pre-approve any secondary absences that will require a make-up assignment. The standing make-up assignment will be attendance at an instructor-approved UC Davis graduate level seminar on a biotech-related topic.  It will be the student’s responsibility to identify an appropriate make-up seminar and submit a request for approval.  If an in-person make-up seminar is not possible, the course instructors may approve viewing an online ~1 hour biotech-related seminar. In either case, a ~1/2 page summary of the make-up seminar’s content must be appended to the final writing assignment described below.

Current Progress in Biotechnology Writing Assignment (100 pts):  At the end of the quarter a ~2-3 page/6 paragraph reflective writing assignment will be due via email to the course instructors no later than the assigned final exam time for the course. Given the summative nature of the final writing assignment, it is recommended that students take notes during each seminar.

Introductory paragraph (10 pts): Highlight one or more impactful seminar speaker quotes or main ideas that were presented during the quarter and briefly explain why these quote(s) or idea(s) caught your attention and capture the essence of what you learned during the quarter.

Body paragraphs: Students should relate specific comments back to one or more of the current quarter’s seminars by citing relevant seminar date(s) at the end of related sentences (e.g. “Feb 22”). Please include ~equally-sized and clearly labelled sections on presented:

  1. Technical Knowledge (20 pts): Biotech research approaches, equipment, data analysis platforms, business models, technoeconomic considerations, etc.
  2. Innovation Systems (20 pts): Intellectual property considerations, regulatory structures and translational research practices impacting the movement of biotech innovations from the lab bench to the clinic or marketplace
  3. Team Science (20 pts): Professional or business skills needed for successful interdisciplinary collaborations and complex problem-solving
  4. Biotech Careers (20 pts): Cultural differences and similarities in public/academic vs. private/industry approaches to research, communication of scientific findings, career advancement of doctoral employees, etc.

Conclusion paragraph (10 pts): Identify a central theme that you feel tied together the majority of quarter’s seminars and give your thoughts on how what you’ve learned may inform your career journey. Suggest one or more biotech-related topics that you would like to learn more about in future seminars.


Click here for the current Friday Seminar Schedule