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Release Date: 
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

HFC Recognizes 2014 Outstanding Biotechnology Student

Left to right: Dr. Jolie Stepaniak, Ruth Synowiec, and HFC President Dr. Stan Jensen

HFC Biotechnology Student Ruth Synowiec was named Outstanding Biotechnology Student of 2014 during the HFC Biotechnology Student Internship Presentations Aug. 13.

Dr. Jolie A. Stepaniak, HFCC director of the Biotechnology Program, presented Synowiec, of Detroit, with a plaque recognizing this achievement and a gift card to Amazon.

“I was surprised by this honor, but I definitely worked really hard. I gave it my all in the lab. It made me want to keep learning more and do things right,” said Synowiec, who will graduate with an advanced skills certification in Biotechnology by the end of the month.

Synowiec, who has an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts/Photography from the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, interned this summer at the Applied Genomics Technology Center (AGTC) in the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Housed on the ground floor of the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, the AGTC is a state-of-the-art genomics center that provides a wide range of genomic technologies to the medical research community.

“I’d been working in the art field for 10 years – it was unfulfilling. I wanted to do more, I wanted to expand and help people. I wanted to do something more interesting and more open – there’s so much you can do in biology,” said Synowiec.

“Ruth is a fantastic student. She’s the first student from HFC to intern at the AGTC. She has a love for the field and a real interest in science – very inquisitive. Ruth’s a good example of a nontraditional student crossing fields who works diligently and does extraordinarily well,” said Stepaniak.

Additionally, Synowiec took additional sciences classes in epidemiology and global disease at HFC to remain current in the field.

“Dr. Stepaniak is such a good mentor – she’s so enthusiastic about the subject matter. She allowed us to ask questions, which is an important part of science. I had a great time in the program and I will miss everybody and all the lab work we were doing,” said Synowiec.

Founded in 2009, HFCC’s Biotechnology Program integrates authentic work-based experiences, training in modern instrumentation and new technologies, and rigorous science content to produce adaptable technicians who support the changing workplace. Although this program centers on skills identified by regional biotechnology employers, the skills gained by students in this program will prepare them for employment in biotechnology-based industries in other regions of the country and the world. Additionally, the skills students learn will prepare them for advanced training in biotechnology-related fields.

The associate’s in Applied Science in Biotechnology Program is an intensive two-year program designed specifically to train students for positions as biotechnology technicians in the region's molecular biology-based industries and institutions. What makes it so unique is that curriculum is a direct outgrowth of the technical and workplace competencies identified by Southeastern Michigan’s biotechnology employers for technicians.

Last year, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan awarded HFC a $100,000 grant to develop a collaborative nanotechnology and microsystems technician training program. This grant represents a partnership between HFC’s Biotechnology Program, the U-M Lurie Nanofabrication Facility (LNF), the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) and the Southwest Center for Microsystem Education (SCME). This partnership will help make nanotechnology and microsystems training available for community college students.

This grant also allows HFC’s Biotechnology Program to implement nanotechnology and microsystems training, thereby providing students with additional career opportunities and additional pathways into high-skills careers. Through this grant, the substantial resources of U-M’s LNF are available to students. It also enlists the expertise of the NNIN and SCME in developing curriculum in nanotechnology and microsystems courses and training HFC’s Biotechnology faculty.

“HFC’s Biotechnology Program is proud to serve the community by providing students with high-quality technical laboratory training at the community college level,” said Stepaniak.

To learn more about the HFC Biotechnology Program, please visit, call 313-845-6310 or email