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Creating STEM Opportunities: Catalyst Program in Photos

Through programs like Catalyst, the College of Sciences is working toward a more diverse and inclusive STEM workforce.

An NC State faculty member helps Catalyst students with a lab activity

The College of Sciences is committed to bringing its knowledge and resources to K-12 teachers and students across the state to strengthen our communities and diversify the sciences.

Through the Catalyst program, which is part of The Science House at NC State, high school students with disabilities have the opportunity to gain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills through hands-on labs, research, computer programming and more.

Each month, Catalyst students participate in Saturday STEM Sessions to explore different topics. Last month’s session focused on biotechnology — and featured a special visit from Chancellor Randy Woodson.

See some highlights from the event.

Welcoming a Special Visitor

Woodson — who is an internationally renowned plant molecular biologist — dropped in and urged the Catalyst students to explore different STEM majors. He spoke to them about his own work in biotechnology and encouraged them to apply to NC State.

Chancellor Randy Woodson smiles at the crowd of Catalyst students
Catalyst students pose with Chancellor Woodson

Learning From NC State Scientists

Two faculty members from NC State’s Biotechnology ProgramStefanie Chen, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Melissa Srougi, assistant teaching professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine — and graduate students from the Molecular Biotechnology Training Program gave presentations on antibodies and the spread of disease. 

Joann Blumenfeld stands in front of a classroom of Catalyst students and introduces the Biotechnology Program team
Joann Blumenfeld, director of Catalyst, introduces the Biotechnology Program team.
Chemistry graduate student Alena Joignant gives a presentation about antibodies.
Graduate student Alena Joignant gives a presentation about antibodies.
Stefanie Chen demonstrates how to label the strip tubes for the ELISA experiment.
Chen demonstrates how to label the strip tubes for a hands-on activity.

Putting Their Skills to the Test

After the presentations, the students performed an antibody-based test — similar to the at-home COVID-19 tests — known as Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA).

Catalyst students put on their lab coats
Students put on their personal protective equipment before beginning the lab exercise.
Catalyst students wearing lab coats and goggles participate in an experiment
Chen helps the students label the strip tubes for the ELISA experiment.
Catalyst students participate in a biotechnology activity
Students build a paper model of the antibody chain that occurs in an ELISA when detecting specific antigens.
Catalyst students participate in a biotechnology activity
Graduate student John Joyce helps students with the paper antibody activity.

Anyone interested in supporting Catalyst by presenting at Saturday STEM Sessions, hosting interns or leading activities at its resource fair for middle and high school students with disabilities on April 22 can contact Joann Blumenfeld at 919-633-3120 or