Category Archives: Press Featured

NYCEDC Announces Expansion of BioBus into Additional NYC Public School Districts Throughout the Bronx

The Program Introduces NYC Public School Students in Historically Underserved Areas to STEM Education and Training Which Strengthens the Life Sciences Workforce Pipeline

The Mobile Lab will Receive $700,000 of City Funding Over the Next Three Years

NEW YORK, NY—Today, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO Andrew Kimball, alongside elected officials announced BioBus, Inc. is expanding its proven hands-on education and training into additional underrepresented communities throughout the Bronx. BioBus, a nonprofit organization, known for its two state-of-the-art Mobile Labs, provides students of all ages with free educational programming and training to prepare for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

The state-of-the-art mobile lab will grow and develop new partnerships with schools in NYC Public School Districts 8, 9, and 10, encompassing neighborhoods from Morris Park to Hunts Point. The program will receive $700,000 over three years and deliver STEM education and training to over 12,700 students in the Bronx during that time period.

The expansion is part of Mayor Adams’ $1 billion investment in the life sciences industry and funded in collaboration with Deerfield Management. 

“I could not be more thrilled that our Administration is building on the success of the BioBus program and investing in its expansion over the next three years. New York City is the global center for Life Sciences innovation, business and discovery, and one of the drivers of the industry’s continued success will be the incredible students in our public school system. This project will make careers in STEM more accessible to young people across New York City and especially in the Bronx,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer.  

“Programs like BioBus, which provide students an opportunity to explore the world around them through a lens of science, are essential to inspiring and preparing them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics later in life. We are thrilled to partner with BioBus to serve more children in the Bronx and achieve a mutual goal of providing a diverse range of students with quality, experiential STEM programming,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “EDC is dedicated to growing the life sciences industry equitably, so all New Yorkers can take advantage of the opportunities it provides. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to build a brighter and more inclusive future.” 

“We know that STEM education, particularly hands-on, immersive programs like BioBus, play a critical role in preparing our students for the opportunities and challenges ahead. We are thrilled to celebrate EDC’s investment in BioBus student programming, which provides invaluable experiences and sparks curiosity in young minds, inspiring the next generation of scientists, researchers, and innovators,” said NYC Public Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. 

“Today’s announcement is not just an investment in BioBus but in our children and families across the borough,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “As a City Council Member, I was a huge supporter of BioBus because if its potential to empower and uplift our students by giving them a hands-on experience to conduct experiments, problem-solve and engage with the STEM field in an accessible and engaging way. By providing this experience to historically underserved students, we are potentially unlocking an interest in STEM for youth who will go on to pursue a career in life sciences. BioBus is leveling the playing field and ensuring our youth have access and opportunities afforded to children and families in more affluent neighborhoods. I want to thank NYCEDC for their investment of $700,000 for BioBus to expand their network and I look forward to working with them, the BioBus staff, and the DOE teams in Districts 8, 9, and 10.”

“Our students are the future of our City and it is essential we provide them with the tools they need to foster their own innovation and discovery. BioBus is accessible, educational, and helps to foster a long-term interest in STEM. As a Bronx Council Member, I have had the pleasure of seeing BioBus in action through my discretionary funding in my local budget and experienced first hand how engaged our students are during the lessons. I could not be more excited that Mayor Adams and NYCEDC are expanding BioBus to serve more of our amazing Bronx students,” said Councilmember and Chair of Committee on Economic Development Amanda Farías.  

“One of the most important things we can do for our students is ensure that we expose them to all possible career paths in preparation for their future. This investment by EDC provides an opportunity for our Bronx students to understand what it means to pursue a career in STEM,” said Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. 

“Since coming to our City a few years ago, the BioBus program has provided tens of thousands of students with innovative and engaging educational opportunities designed to broaden their knowledge of STEM fields. Today’s expansion of this invaluable program here in the Bronx made possible through funding from the NYC Economic Development Corporation is a testament to the importance of ensuring BioBus continues to educate our students for years to come,” said Assemblymember John Zaccaro, Jr. 

“This collaboration allows BioBus to strengthen our commitment to the students of the Bronx, expanding our pathway from the first science exploration to the future critical thinkers and professional scientists. We are showing students that they can do science. Support from EDC to expand BioBus shows the students of the Bronx that they belong in science,” said BioBus Chief Scientific Officer Latasha Wright, PhD. 

“I grew up in the Bronx with two older siblings and parents who came over from Ghana, West Africa. My parents have always instilled in me the act of perseverance, the importance of education, and giving back to the community. Increasing access to science, especially in underprivileged neighborhoods, will allow kids who have a drive for science to cultivate their passion and strive to make the world a better place,” said BioBus and LifeSci NYC Internship Alumnus Vanessa Akwada. 

“Studying life science gives our students the foundational knowledge and ways to examine the world and life around us. Programs like BioBus will give our students rich experiences to expand their minds and tap into their brilliance,” said NYC Community School District 7 Superintendent Dr. Roberto Padilla. 

“As the organization co-leading and stewarding the development and launch of a Green Economy Network in New York City, JobsFirstNYC sees greater need for hands-on science engagement and earlier exposure to the science-sustainability connection – especially for people and communities underrepresented in good green careers. We are excited to work with BioBus to increase the STEM pipeline in the green economy,” said JobsFirstNYC Vice President Keri Faulhaber. 

BioBus students participate in inquiry-based, hands-on, standards-aligned lab sessions, connect with scientists from diverse backgrounds, learn lab and research skills, practice science communication, and take steps to become the next generation of scientists and problem-solvers, making the world better for all of us.

Students discover the excitement of hands-on science during introductory 45-minute sessions on board a mobile lab at their school. Entire classes of pre-K through twelfth-grade students use research-grade microscopes, guided by BioBus Community Scientists, for a fascinating exploration of the world around them, looking at tiny bugs, worms, compost, microscopic organisms, invertebrates, and/or the various parts of a cell. During the session, students make observations and ask questions, develop hypotheses, and experience the joy of scientific discovery first-hand.

Students also have the option to explore BioBus programs after school, on the weekends, and during the summer where they are provided with the tools, and guidance for in-depth science exploration. 

High school and college students join or return to BioBus as Junior Scientist interns, then spend over 100 hours as paid interns completing their own science research and serving as mentors to younger students.

Skilled and diverse talent is key to supporting the life sciences industry in New York City, but a lack of exposure to STEM education can limit students’ potential for pursuing careers in the life sciences later in life. All BioBus programs focus on students underrepresented in the scientific community due to factors such as race, gender, economic status, and physical access. 

Robust STEM education can close achievement gaps for those in underserved neighborhoods and mold a positive outlook toward science, but schools often lack the resources and facilities to deliver it. Research shows that students receiving such education will therefore be positioned to create a more inclusive and representative scientific workforce.

The programs are offered city-wide with a focus on Harlem, the South Bronx, and the Lower East Side. BioBus reached more than 50,000 students through short, introductory programs during the 2018-2019 school year, with hundreds of students engaging in in-depth programs and research internships. During the 2019-2020 school year, the program reached over 24,000 students both through in-person programs and online during the pandemic.

BioBus is also a long-time host company to the LifeSci NYC Internship Program, having hosted 30 LifeSci NYC interns since 2018. Both the Internship Program and this support for BioBus are part of the City’s $1 billion initiative to create 40,000 jobs, unlock 10 million square feet of wet- and dry-lab real estate, and generate $82 billion in overall economic impact over the next 10-15 years, making New York City a global leader in life sciences.

About NYCEDC        
New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that works for a vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers. We take a comprehensive approach, through four main strategies: strengthen confidence in NYC as a great place to do business; grow innovative sectors with a focus on equity, build neighborhoods as places to live, learn, work, and play; and deliver sustainable infrastructure for communities and the city’s future economy. To learn more about what we do, visit us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram

About BioBus 
BioBus helps K-12 and college students in New York City discover, explore, and pursue science. We focus on students excluded from the scientific community due to factors such as race, gender, economic status, and physical access. Through this work, we envision a world where all people have the opportunity to reach their full scientific potential.

Tessa Hirschfeld-Stoler Receives 2022 SfN Science Educator Award

Author: Nicky Penttila
Published: November 14, 2022

Full report from Neuroscience 2022

Tessa Hirschfeld-Stoler and BioBus High School Junior Scientists observe the morphology of Drosophila melanogaster exposed to high salt and high sugar diets. BioBase Harlem, Columbia University Zuckerman Institute, New York City, 2022. (photo courtesy of Sedami Yevide)

Each year, the Society for Neuroscience recognizes outstanding neuroscientists who have strongly added to public education and awareness about the field. The Dana Foundation sponsors these awards. This year’s award was presented to Tessa Hirschfeld-Stoler, M.Phil., a neuroscientist and science educator with 14 years of experience in science outreach. Hirschfeld-Stoler is a Senior Community Scientist for BioBus, a science outreach nonprofit that helps K-12 and college students in New York City discover, explore, and pursue science. BioBus serves students from groups that are underrepresented in the STEM fields due to their gender, race, or physical access. At BioBus, Hirschfeld-Stoler develops and implements inquiry-based STEM programs based on cutting-edge science and hands-on pedagogy in BioBus’ community lab spaces, providing students with early and rich exposure to meaningful neuroscience experiences. 

To read the full interview with Tessa, visit Dana.org

Students Published: Local High School Students First to Describe New Viruses in New York City’s Pigeons

Actionable data on avian diseases will help make New York City safer for humans and wildlife

For immediate release, April 8, 2022

New York, New York The New York City Virus Hunters (NYCVH), a collaborative community science initiative, has conducted the first large-scale virus surveillance project of urban wild birds in the New York City (NYC) metropolitan area. A paper published in Microbiology Spectrum reports the findings of five public high school students who, under the mentorship of virologists, veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators, addressed the lack of extensive baseline data for viruses present in urban wild birds.  

Screening wild birds to understand what viruses they might carry is of increasing importance as New York lies on a major bird migratory route, the Atlantic Flyway, but there is limited information on what viruses circulate endemically in migratory and resident birds of NYC.

After collecting and screening hundreds of samples since Fall 2020, the students found that 4.1% of tested birds screened positive for avian paramyxovirus (APMV-1), also known as Newcastle disease virus. The great majority of the APMV-1-positive birds were pigeons, and one was an American woodcock. The program team also isolated two live viruses—the first ever described for the Big Apple—that can serve as domestic reference strains for future APMV-1 vaccine developments for poultry. Birds infected with APMV-1 often show no symptoms, but when they do, symptoms include becoming lethargic and reluctant to move, and having difficulty standing or holding their head upright. Despite available vaccines to prevent Newcastle disease in domestic poultry in the United States, it still remains one of the main poultry diseases in commercial and backyard chickens.

“It appears that avian paramyxoviruses circulate in NYC pigeons. While they are not harmful to humans, understanding local APMV-1 strains is important for the poultry industry and occupational safety. This virus can cause pinkeye in humans in rare cases; therefore, NYC residents should refrain from handling or feeding wild birds, and poultry and slaughterhouse workers should always be provided with appropriate protective equipment as per state public health guidelines,” says Isabel Francisco, DVM, first author on the paper.

Florian Krammer, Professor in Vaccinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, points out the important scientific implications of the NYCVH program. “This is a great initiative from a training perspective, but we are also doing real science here. It looks like the students isolated AMPV-1 strains that belong to two different lineages. This is the first such data ever recorded for New York City. This work becomes even more relevant with the emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of the H5N1 subtype on the East Coast. We need to know which viruses are present in our urban birds.“

“The concept of ’One Health’ puts forward that animals and people, plants and the environment, are inextricably connected. When a pigeon from a park is sick from environmental lead poisoning, the young children playing in the park may suffer debilitation from the same toxin. This spring, “Bird Flu” struck up and down the East Coast. By monitoring the occurrence of H5N1 in wild birds, we are safeguarding our domestic flocks and our food supply,” comments Rita McMahon, Director Wild Bird Fund.

“The present study demonstrates the role of community science as a sentinel for urban viral surveillance initiatives that potentially could detect emerging infectious disease. We need more people on the ground to help us map urban viral diversity, and there is no better way to achieve this than by co-creating a program with the community and involving them in every step” says Christine Marizzi, BioBus Director of Community Science and senior author of the paper.

Reflecting on his time in the program, Joel Gonzalez, one of the five high school student co-authors from the South Bronx, NYC, and currently at Brown University, says “Go for it. We need more people like us in NYCVH and STEM. Trust me, it will be worth it.” 

And Djenabou Diallo, a senior at Central Park East High School who lives in Queens, NYC, and another paper co-author, adds “I just recently finished applying to college and am currently receiving acceptances and NYCVH made the college application so much easier. When asked about things I’m passionate about or a favorite extracurricular etc., I find myself always going back to this program.”

Generously funded by Flu Lab, which funds and advances innovative solutions to influenza challenges, the initiative ran over two years and will continue to generate actionable data on avian diseases to make New York City safer for both humans and our precious wildlife. 

About BioBus
BioBus helps K-12 and college students in New York City discover, explore, and pursue science. We focus on students excluded from the scientific community due to factors such as race, gender, economic status, and physical access. Through this work, we envision a world where all people have the opportunity to reach their full scientific potential. We’ve reached 300,000 students at more than 800 schools since 2008, primarily in NYC public and charter schools and as far away as New England, California, and even Egypt and Jordan. BioBus students connect with scientists from diverse backgrounds, learn lab and research skills, practice science communication, and take steps to become the next generation of scientists and problem-solvers, making the world better for all of us. Our students access and become part of the scientific community through introductory science labs aboard our mobile labs at their schools; after school, weekend, and summer programs; and year-long internships. We offer programs city-wide with a focus on Harlem, the South Bronx, and the Lower East Side. 

About the Krammer Laboratory at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
The Krammer Laboratory studies cross-reactive antibody responses to the surface glycoproteins of antigenically variable RNA viruses. Our main focus is on influenza viruses, but we are also interested in antibody responses to coronaviruses, hantaviruses, filoviruses, and other emerging RNA viruses. Work done in the laboratory includes the expression and characterization of viral glycoproteins, generation of glycoprotein-directed monoclonal antibodies, and the characterization of the interaction between antibodies and surface glycoproteins; we are specifically interested in analyzing conserved epitopes and—through detailed studies—aim to elucidate the mechanisms by which these antibodies protect the host from viral infection and disease. The final goal is to translate these findings into novel vaccines and therapeutics.

About Wild Bird Fund
Wild Bird Fund is a state and federally licensed 501(c)(3) that cares for the injured, ill and orphaned wildlife of New York City.  Medical care includes radiographs, diagnostic testing, surgery, medication, bandaging, splinting, physical therapy, feeding and sheltering, for as many as 9,000 animals a year.  Our mission is twofold:  to provide veterinary care and rehabilitation to native and migrant wildlife so that they can be released back into the wild, and to educate New Yorkers about the rich diversity and environmental needs of the city’s precious wildlife. 

About Flu Lab
Flu Lab’s mission is to fuel bold approaches to defeat influenza. We power transformative approaches to advance influenza research, promote open science principles, and explore new influenza solutions. To achieve this, Flu Lab seeks out high-impact opportunities, makes investments and grants, evaluates results, and provides opportunities for shared learnings. We support initiatives that range from big and bold efforts to smaller, highly creative programs. 

Contact information
Christine Marizzi,  Ph.D., BioBus Director of Community Science, christine@biobus.org   

Stories of Impact: Simons Foundation Video Features BioBus

“Discovering microscopic worlds on board a bus isn’t something that most people can say they’ve done in their lives. However, junior scientist Jaylene Muñoz — and countless other New York City K-12 students — have done just that, thanks to BioBus, a growing fleet of mobile science labs that reach students who may not otherwise have access to meaningful science engagement. Fitted with state-of-the-art microscopes and other equipment, BioBus helps these students realize their full science potential.” Read more.

Molecular Ideas: Driving STEM Education with BioBus

Jack Fischer from Molecular Ideas spoke to Community Scientist Francesca Anselmi and wrote about BioBus:

Welcome to Molecular Ideas and thank you for sharing your time with us. We’re back today with a Startup Showcase for an organization dedicated to empowering students, parents, and communities with scientific literacy through hands-on engagement.

“There’s this crazy group of scientists in New York City who teach kids on a bus.”

That was how both I and Dr. Francesca Anselmi, Ph.D. heard about BioBus. Yet, such a simple statement could never hope to encompass this organization’s unique method for teaching science and instilling a passion for it in dozens of communities. Francesca is BioBus’ Chief Scientist, who I had the pleasure of sitting down with to discuss the organization’s unique positioning and scalable model for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.

Visit Molecular Ideas to read more. Jack shares the numbers that highlight the lack of representation in STEM fields and Francesca tells the story of two BioBus students and discusses some of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work.

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.