Category Archives: Press Featured

With $400k Grant from Manton Foundation, BioBus Launches in New England

The science education nonprofit, started in New York City in 2008, will bring hands-on inquiry-based science learning to thousands of students across New England

For immediate release, October 12, 2021

Somerville, Massachusetts Elementary students at West Somerville Neighborhood and Winter Hill Community Innovation public schools are in for a treat. Mollie Thurman, BioBus Chief Scientist, will be on site at both schools every week this fall with research science tools and Harvard PhD student volunteers. But this isn’t a one-time chance for students to learn through hands-on science – or exclusively for these two schools. The Manton Foundation, a family foundation with grantmaking interests primarily in New England, recently awarded a two-year grant of $398,750 to BioBus, Inc. The grant, along with other philanthropic and academic support, is funding BioBus to launch permanently in Boston and the greater New England area, the organization’s first major expansion outside of New York City. Through this expansion, BioBus will bring science programming that is responsive to community needs to thousands of students throughout New England. With BioBus, students will connect with academic scientists and the growing biotech industry, and start their own paths to become the next generation of scientists, innovators, and problem solvers. 

Students using research microscopes aboard a BioBus Mobile Lab in Somerville in 2018, including an electron microscope (right)

Since 2008, BioBus has helped more than 300,000 students become budding scientists. Over 80% of these students are from minority and low-income backgrounds. BioBus plans to bring expertise in science engagement and pedagogy to Boston students immediately, and within five years the team hopes to deploy BioBus New England, a new mobile laboratory to deliver programs across broader New England.

Already, through annual mobile laboratory visits, BioBus has reached over 1,800 students in the region and has attended events and conferences in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine. These visits have led to strong partnerships with universities such as Harvard University Molecular & Cellular Biology and the Institute for Chemical Imaging of Living Systems at Northeastern University as well as the Somerville Public Schools. With this expansion, BioBus will develop partnerships with schools around New England. 

A BioBus Mobile Lab open to the public in Cambridge

Interested in getting involved and signing up for programs? If you or a school or organization you know wants to partner, work with, or donate to BioBus New England, please visit www.biobus.org/newengland, or contact Chief Community Scientist Mollie Thurman at mollie@biobus.org.

About BioBus

BioBus’s mission is to help K-12 and college students discover, explore, and pursue science. The organization focuses on students excluded from the scientific community due to factors such as race, gender, economic status, and physical access. Through this work, BioBus envisions a world where everyone can reach their full scientific potential. 

BioBus was founded in 2008 as a group of volunteer scientists and a decommissioned San Francisco transit bus on a mission to bring hands-on science learning to students in New York City who could most benefit from it. Since those beginnings the organization has grown rapidly. Still relying on a steady influx of volunteer scientists, as well as partnerships with communities, schools, academic institutions, businesses, and individual supporters, BioBus has expanded its services to a full science engagement pathway from kindergarten through college.

Students in line to board the original BioBus mobile laboratory

Students use a BioBus Science Station to view samples under a microscope, guided by a BioBus Community Scientist

Science At East Side: Unobstructed

by Lavon Sykes, January 2021 in The East Sider

The BioBus Team: Brenda Bolds, Jordan (Recy) Dunn, Shirley Canales, Mariah King, Brianna Brookes, Tenzin Choeyki, and Marc-Anthony Suarez.

For most of the city, the past year has been lights out and doors shut. COVID-19 has been a great force in consuming nationwide morale, energy, and motivation. But, not for East Side’s team of BioBus students.

While many have been sitting on their couches watching Netflix all day, and resigning to the monotony of quarantine, a group of scholars have taken initiative to preserve and express their passions for science. Through BioBus, a program dedicated to imbuing the love of science in low-income minority students, East Side students have been able to reimagine STEM at our school.

East Side is fortunate enough to have won a $20,000 grant due to the work of these students in the Reimagine Schools contest, sponsored by philanthropic organization XQ and the DOE. The $20,000 will help “mentor 10 juniors who are going to do their PBATs in the Spring” by supplying them with high-tech microscopes ready to kickstart their “hands-on experience,” says Assistant Principal and STEM Coordinator Joseph Vincente.

The story’s ending, although grand, doesn’t fully underscore the hard work and dedication each student, Joe, and BioBus put into achieving their goals. Every week before the shutdown, the group met at the library to discuss redesigning the East Side STEM programs and building the East Village biology base in the vacated space outside the auditorium on the 11th street side of the school.

A student on the team, Recy Jordan, said, “Through BioBus and getting the grant it would help spread that [STEM] to others. I feel great that I was able to help support STEM at East Side.” With nothing but high hopes and the means to bring them to fruition, the team was disappointed and briefly set back by the city-wide shutdown. Joe stated, “Then the pandemic happened and it came to a halt.” Discussion of the competition, biology base ideas, and the in-person meetings were put on pause.

Their dedication paid off as the team continued to attend Zoom meetings, and the city contacted Joe to provide East Side with a “mini-grant.” This is the $20,000 grant that will allow research at East Side to continue with high-tech equipment. The full prize money, however, was unable to be offered due toCOVID, but there is a possibility that the competition will resume once normalcy is reached, and the possibility for the full prize fund would be on the table. Although nothing about $20,000 is mini, it still won’t be enough to fully fund the biology base project.

Joe hopes that the students, city, and donors will “have enough momentum to reenter the contest and win even more money.” For current students and alumni, the large space that gave a home to many missing kickballs, baseballs, hats, and papers may become a center for science and exploration at East Side.

We’re all rooting for our science team, and we hope that as the city can resume normalcy over the next few months, our passionate students can once again have fun with biology and science exploration in person. And hopefully, that comes with a side of the money needed to build the biology base.

Amid One Pandemic, Students Train for the Next (NYTimes Jan 2021)

Researchers have banded together to find safe, virtual ways to teach the principles of microbiology and epidemiology.

Teresa Bautista, a student at the High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan, collecting goose dropping samples at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Christine Marizzi/BioBus

By Katherine J. Wu
Jan. 21, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

On a crisp afternoon in November, Teresa Bautista ventured into Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y., on the lookout for feces. It didn’t take long for Ms. Bautista, 17 — and, to her chagrin, her white Puma shoes — to hit some serious pay dirt.

Speckled all across the park’s grass was the greenish glint of goose droppings, which Ms. Bautista eagerly swabbed and swirled into a tubeful of chemicals. “This was my first time digging into poop,” she said. “It was really fun.”

Article continues in The New York Times. Read the press release for more information and check out the documentary short “Feathers Gone Viral” produced by Christine Lin.

BioBus to Set up Permanent Site at Astoria Houses

New York Council Member Costa Constantinides and western Queens community leaders joined with BioBus on September 24 to announce the science education non-profit would set up a permanent installation at the NYCHA Astoria Houses.

Thursday’s announcement represents years of partnership between BioBus and the Astoria Houses, where it has focused on connecting young people with the health of the neighboring East River. BioBus will be able to purchase a new mobile lab for the site thanks to a $304,000 allocation secured by Constantinides in this Fiscal Year’s budget.

“BioBus has already been an amazing partner here in western Queens, to introduce more people to the wonders of science,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. “I am so excited we can mark Climate Week by making BioBus a permanent fixture at the Astoria Houses. This will continue the Hallets Point peninsula’s revolution into a leader on sustainability.”

Read more in The National Herald.