Each year during the Tuesday keynote session at the BIO International Convention, the winner or winners of the BioGENEius contest are announced. What is a BioGENEius? A high school student recognized for outstanding research in biotechnology. Students compete for the title by submitting their projects which are evaluated by real-world academic and industry biotetch leaders. The finalists are brought to the Convention to share their research and receive feedback from professionals at the Convention. These are the leaders of tomorrow.
Proof that these winners eventually lead the way in the life sciences can be seen in the journey of 2006 BioGENEius winner, Lceia Brown.
On a day when her peers were getting ready for their senior prom, Lecia Brown was getting ready to attend the BioGENEius Challenge. BioGENEius represents an important evolution of thought when it comes to the education of young people. Expanding on the curriculums of high school students and exposing them to a new range of challenges in the world of science.
A pivotal experience that spurred her to follow a career in the life sciences, the event provided her with the opportunity to connect with others who were just as passionate about research in the life sciences. During the BioGENEius competition, Lecia also met someone who was affected by HIV, which later became the focus of her Master’s degree pursuit at the University of South Florida (USF). As part of her studies, Lecia visited areas with high-prevalence of HIV in Kenya and Malawi to further her research about HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. During her time at USF, she was named a McKnight Doctoral Fellow and awarded a travel grant to pursue further research in Kenya.
Not content to seek just her own achievements, Lecia also turned her attention to helping those from her homeland of Jamaica. In 2008, she founded the non-profit LAMB Foundation, which provides more than 50 annual scholarships to students worldwide, funds sports camps in Jamaica, and is now working towards building a local clinic to provide much-needed healthcare to the people in the community.
Lecia now works at GlaxoSmithKline as a researcher and is a member of its Future Leaders Program in Vaccines Research and Development. Most recently, the Biotechnology Institute granted her the Mentor of the Year Award, which will be presented to her at the 2018 BIO International Convention. With the backdrop of the Convention theme “Make History,” it will be interesting to see how Lecia makes history in the future.
Don’t miss this year’s announcement at tomorrow’s keynote session.