TBC2013 Volunteers

Teen Biotech Challenge

The Teen Biotech Challenge (TBC)

The Teen Biotech Challenge 2023 is an online poster design competition that allows students to demonstrate research skills, scientific communication skills, and creativity. Participating students will be asked to submit a poster (.pdf) for judging in one of the following biotech-related research categories:

TBC2023 Contest Instructions and Application

CLICK HERE for the TBC2023 Poster Competition Instructions! 

CLICK HERE for Poster Template Examples

Two final steps, once finished making your poster:

1) CLICK HERE to fill out and submit your online TBC2023 Application

2) Email your final poster .pdf to: biotechprogram@ucdavis.edu  

All materials are due by 11:59pm on April 5, 2023.

  • Agricultural Biotechnology 
  • Biomanufacturing
  • Computational Biology and Genomics
  • Environmental Biotechnology and Planetary Health
  • Molecular Tools: Nanobiotechnology, Synthetic Biology and Genetic Engineering
  • Regenerative Medicine and Biomedical Engineering

TBC has three competition levels - Junior (Grades 6 - 8), Intermediate (Grades 9 - 10) and Senior (Grades 11 - 12).  

  • Contest entrants at the Junior (Grades 6-8) level should include the following items on their posters, aimed at a content level appropriate for middle school peers: Title, I. Topic Background, II. Technology Timeline, ~2-3 Images/Graphics, and V. References. 
  • Contest entrants at the Intermediate (Grades 9-10) and Senior (Grades 11-12) levels should include the following items on their posters, aimed at a content level appropriate for high school peers: Title, I. Topic Background, II. Technology Timeline, III. Biotech Innovators & Economic Impact, IV. Ethical, Legal and Social Issues, and V. References. 

Posters may be created using any software where files may be saved as a .pdf (30" x 40" portrait orientation, recommended PDF size less than 10MB).  Example PowerPoint poster layouts: TBC Poster Templates. Students are welcome to rearrange the size, shape and position of sections within the overall poster, though the Title should stay at the top and the References should stay at the bottom. 

Important Contest Dates

  • September 21 – TBC 2023 Application Form and Contest Instructions posted online. Contest instructions will be very detailed - please download and read the document before starting or submitting a contest entry. Note that the poster section requirements for the Junior level contest entries have been reduced to the Topic Background and Technology Timeline, plus References.
  • April 5 – Contest Deadline. The following items will be due electronically by 11:59pm PDT:
    • TBC 2023 Application online form, which includes student and parent/guardian contact information; student demographic information; student grade level and school information; poster title and category; and an indication of parent/guardian permission to participate and electronically share the poster for judging and awards.
    • Submitted via E-mail to biotechprogram@ucdavis.edu:
      • The final electronic poster file (.pdf) attachment.
      • The email subject line should contain the student’s name, grade and school name.
      • The email body text should include the poster title and TBC category.
  • May (date TBA) – Contest winners will be announced across the six TBC categories and contest levels (junior, intermediate and senior).

SPARK Research Scholar Award

Student Awards and Related Opportunities

The first-place winning posters (.pdf) for each contest category will be linked on this webpage. Depending on secured extramural sponsorship in 2022-2023, we may be able to host an awards event or provide student prizes. More information on the TBC awards format will be shared with winning students in spring 2023.

We are pleased to announce that the CIRM-funded SPARK Research Scholar Award, which requires an application process independent from the TBC, will be available for summer 2023. The contest is open to students who will be 16 years old by June 1, 2023 and attending a high school within 45 miles of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures. TBC participants should mention their contest participation and other academic achievements within the "Life Experiences and Extracurricular Activities Section" of the SPARK application. 

Recent TBC Contest Winners


Teen Biotech Challenge Website Design Contest Archive (2005-2020)

For fifteen years, the Biotech Program administered the Teen Biotech Challenge (TBC), a website design competition that encouraged high school students to demonstrate their understanding of biotechnology's impact on our world, reaching ~350 California high school students per year, on average. Sponsor teachers who incorporated TBC as a class activity submitted their best entries in each focus area for final judging, after an initial round of school-site judging.  Once received, volunteer faculty and graduate students judged the final website entries and awards were made in each focus area.  Winning students were invited to an annual awards event and presented their work to an audience that included high school peers, regional educators, graduate students, faculty, biotech industry scientists, and government representatives. Participating students developed research and presentation skills, and most importantly, had fun learning about new life science technologies that impact our daily lives.  

TBC2019 Grand Prize Winner Jayla Taylor
TBC2019 Grand Prize Winner, Jayla Taylor, describes her experience building the winning website, "HIV and AIDS: A Journey of Biological Discovery" at the final TBC Awards and Reception in May 2019 at UC Davis. 

The TBC2020 Challenge 

1. Students began by choosing a biotech topic within one of six designated Focus Areas: Agricultural Biotechnology and Food Science; Computational Biology and Genomics; Drug Discovery and Biomanufacturing; Environmental Biotechnology and Planetary Health; Molecular Tools; and, Regenerative Medicine and Biomedical Engineering. 
2. Conducting independent research, students worked individually or in teams of ~2-3 students to develop webpages that illustrated the chosen technology's impact on society.
3. Webpage entries were judged by PhD student volunteers with expertise in the respective focus areas for adherence to contest directions, quality of information, web design, and overall presentation.
4. In each Focus Area, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Honorable Mention winners were chosen and a Grand Prize winner was selected by the judges from among the 1st place winners. 

Jan Nolta and Bioengineering Winners 2009
Prof. Jan Nolta, TBC2009 Keynote Speaker, and the Bioengineering Focus Area Winners.

Sponsors and Volunteers

Thanks to our community partners for providing support for student prizes and event costs over the years, as well as the volunteer efforts of Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology graduate program students for contest judging and event hosting.  Without the support of the biotech community TBC would not have been possible. Since its launch in 2005 by former Biotech Program Assistant Director, Carey Kopay, and American River College faculty partner, Prof. Ken Kubo, we have engaged with hundreds of California high school students, parents and teachers.

Denneal and Ken Kubo
Dr. Denneal Jamison-McClung and Prof. Ken Kubo (American River College), TBC cofounder and event partner since the contest launch in 2005.

Academic partners providing financial and in-kind sponsorship (event locations, supplies, personnel time, etc.) over the years have included the UC Davis Biotechnology Program, the North Valley Biotechnology Center at American River College, the UC Biotechnology Research and Education Program (UCBREP), the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES), the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences (CBS), the UC Davis College of Engineering (COE), the UC Davis Health System, the UC Davis Office of Financial Aid, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, Sacramento State University - College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Sacramento State University - Center for STEM Excellence, the Solano County Office of Education, and the Edward Teller Foundation Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 

TBC2009 Dean Burtis and Jacob Jorgensen
TBC Sponsors attending the 2009 Awards Banquet and Symposium included College of Biological Sciences Dean Ken Burtis, Velocity Venture sponsor, Dr. Jacob Jorgensen, and his partner, Sarah Kooshian (Emulex).

Industry sponsors were the primary source of support for student prizes and the awards event for most years of the contest. Event partnership and various levels of financial and in-kind sponsorship by the following biotechnology companies, organizations and regional businesses/business owners (alphabetical order) were recognized on event banners and in the program books linked below:

  • Active Diagnostics, Inc.
  • Akers Capital, LLC
  • Altergy Systems
  • American River Packaging / Package One
  • AT&T
  • ALZA Corporation / Global Pharmaceutical Supply Group
  • BayBio Institute
  • Bayer Crop Science
  • Biokinetics
  • Bio-Rad Laboratories
  • Bosley Business Law
  • Chevron
  • DCA Partners
  • Dome Construction Corporation
  • Downey and Brand Attorneys
  • Element Realty (Austin, TX)
  • Ernst and Young, LLP
  • Five Star Bank
  • Fulcrum Industries
  • Genentech
  • HDR Architecture
  • International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE)
  • IoSafe
  • Dan Koellen
  • Lumlab, LLC
  • Marrone BioInnovations, Inc.
  • Merrill Lynch - The CAL Group
  • Monsanto, Calgene Campus
  • Roger Niello
  • Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc.
  • Novozymes, Inc.
  • Dennis Pendleton
  • Powerhouse Science Center / Discovery Museum (Sacramento)
  • Rotary Club of Sacramento
  • Christopher Russell
  • Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA)
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
  • Sigma Energy Group
  • Gary Simon / CleanStart
  • Symantec
  • Techoire
  • Valore Books
  • Velocity Venture Capital
  • Ventria Bioscience
  • Wavepoint Ventures
  • Western Plant Health Association (WPHA)
  • World Bridge Partners


TBC2009 Bio-Rad Teacher Awards
For many years, Bio-Rad Laboratories awarded the TBC sponsor teachers of first place focus area winners with redeemable certificates for Bio-Rad Biotechnology Explorer kits to use in their classrooms.  Here, Dr. Ingrid Hermanson-Miller presents the awarded TBC2009 Sponsor Teachers with their certificates (L->R: Jason Brennan, Sheldon HS; Anne Whitford, Bella Vista HS; Lilibeth Pinpin, Hogan HS; and, Dr. Ingrid Hermanson-Miller, Bio-Rad). 

Not shown, but also participating as TBC Sponsor Teachers for students placing second, third and honorable mention that year were: Annie Clegg Wise, Antelope HS; Steve Conley, Bella Vista HS; Ray Lewis, Benicia HS; Marietta Dunaway, Campolindo HS; Nicole Brousseau, Christian Brothers HS; Louie Dias, El Camino HS; Barbara Lohman, Half Moon Bay HS; Vlastimil Krbecek, Hiram W. Johnson HS; Dave Menshew, James C. Enochs HS; Lori Steward, Linden HS; Scott Martinez, Mira Loma HS; Lisa Voss, Pioneer HS; Clare Wiley, River City HS; and, Therese Shook, Vacaville HS.


TBC2014 Shailise Ross Hosting
TBC awards events were powered by the volunteer efforts of many DEB doctoral students over the years. Here is Shailise Ross, kindly handing out program books and guiding high school guests to their tables at TBC2014. Dr. Ross now works in regulatory affairs in the biotechnology industry.


TBC2015 Dr. Judy
Dr. Judy Kjelstrom sharing words of wisdom and encouragement with the TBC2015 student winners, parents and sponsor teachers. Many thanks to Dr. Judy for her tireless fundraising among the Sacramento business and philanthropic community on behalf of TBC. (Photo by Jason Brennan, Sheldon HS BTA teacher and sponsor of many winning websites.)
Novozymes Sponsor with Chinh Vo
Industry partner, Dr. Feng Xu (Novozymes) chats with TBC2016 Winner Chinh Vo at the Awards Reception.​​​​
Making Science Make Sense Booth
TBC Sponsor representatives from Bayer Crop Science, Sarah Demshar and colleague, set up the educational Making Science Make Sense booth at TBC2014.
Eisen Keynote
The teachers, parents and students loved the TBC2013 symposium keynote by Prof. Jonathan Eisen, "All Microbes, All the Time"
Goody bags
DEB volunteers, Emily Mills and Amelia Manlove, staff the goodie-bag table at TBC2013.  Thanks to in-kind donations and sponsorships, winning students received a few fun items to commemorate their award.
TBC2009 SACNAS booth
SACNAS members, Rosi Villalon, Amy Tran and Cecilia Osorio, volunteering to talk with TBC2009 event guests about biotech career paths and diversity in STEM.

TBC Program Books 

The TBC Symposium and Awards Reception Program Books (2007-2019) listed below highlight past TBC winners, participating high schools and teachers, distinguished keynote speakers, symposium exhibitors, community sponsors and event partners. 


TBC2009 laptop demo
TBC2009 Bioengineering Focus Area First Place Winners, Donnie Littleton and Oscar Rivera, demonstrate their website to symposium attendees.
TBC2015 Denneal and Students
TBC2015 awardees, Rani Whitfield and Mikah Watts, receiving their Honorable Mention Awards from Dr. Jamison-McClung. (Photo credit - Jason Brennan.)
TBC2008 Forensics Winners
Jeffery O'Neal (California Applied Biotechnology Centers Initiative) and the TBC2009 Forensics Focus Area Winners.
TBC2009 students at symposium
TBC2009 student participants browsing the posters and booths.
TBC2015 Jim DeKloe
Prof. Jim DeKloe (Solano Community College Biotech Program) continues as an avid supporter of biotechnology education in the region, working with his colleagues, including Prof. Ed Re, to build effective biotech training programs that bridge high school to community college and on to bachelor's degrees. He has been an avid supporter of TBC and attended many awards events over the years, engaging with teachers, parents and students interested in biotech industry jobs and career laddering that can start as early as high school.  Here is Prof. DeKloe at TBC2015, presenting the awards in the Drug Discovery and Biomanufacturing Focus Area. (Photo by Jason Brennan, Sheldon HS BTA Teacher.)

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Summer Research Programs

Beginning in the summer of 2011 with a pilot program of four TBC winning students (Jaskaran Dhillon, Thomas Gepts, Kalani Ratnasiri and Rex Reyes), Prof. Jan Nolta and Prof. Gerhard Bauer of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures launched an eight-week summer research program in stem cell biology for high school trainees. These students acquired hands-on experience in biotechnology and learned more about STEM career paths, working in the lab and taking courses with graduate students participating in the CIRM Bridges-funded Sacramento State University-UC Davis Professional Science Masters in Stem Cell Research. From 2012-2015, CIRM provided funding for ten students per summer via the Creativity Award Program, which also included a crash course in the history of film/cinema. PI Gerhard Bauer is an expert in both disciplines and provided a unique and enriching summer training program for over 30 students. 

In 2016, the Nolta team and PI Gerhard Bauer received a follow-up award via the CIRM Summer Program to Accelerate Regenerative Medicine Knowledge (SPARK).  From 2016-2019, forty students have participated in the training program, which has an emphasis on stem cell biology and science communication via social media and blogs.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the final cohort of students selected through TBC2020 have postponed their summer research experience until 2021.

**Funding for this program was renewed in January 2022. TBC participation is no longer required, though applicants must attend a high school within 45 miles of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures. Please see the program webpage for more details.**


TBC2015 Gerhard
CIRM SPARK PI, Gerhard Bauer, speaking to the TBC2015 crowd about the promise of regenerative medicine and his enthusiasm for hosting the summer research program in stem cell biology for a cohort of TBC participant students. (Photo by Jason Brennan, Sheldon HS BTA Teacher.)
TBC2009 CIRM SPARK Awardees
The TBC2019 CIRM SPARK awardees received their certificates and met one another for the first time at the awards event in May. These young scientists spent eight weeks together over the summer of 2019, culminating in a research conference hosted by Cal Tech (Pasadena, CA).  Thanks to the generosity of PI Gerhard Bauer, the participants also enjoyed a tour of Warner Brother's Studios on their trip to Southern California.
WB Studios
2019 CIRM-SPARK Research Scholars at Warner Brother's Studios!

The Evolution of TBC... into TBBC!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the final TBC Awards Reception & Symposium planned for May 8, 2020, was unfortunately cancelled.  A list of winning TBC2020 students may be found in the pdf below. We extend our sincere congratulations to all of the students who participated in TBC2020 and all of the previous TBC winners. Your curiosity, creativity and desire to tackle big global challenges using science and engineering has been an inspiration. We look forward to seeing the blog entries and infographics developed through the new Teen Biotech Blogging Challenge (TBBC), which will continue to tap into the energy and optimism of California's teens - they are the future of STEM innovation!

Denneal and Jacki
Thanks to the Biotech Program staff, including Jacki Balderama (pictured with Denneal) for helping to plan and execute the TBC Awards event, a labor of love!  Special thanks to Marianne Hunter, who developed web design tutorials, set up laptops at the TBC Awards event and played a key role in allowing web-savvy students to use Dreamweaver for their entries.

In Memoriam 

Jeffery O'Neal (1954 - 2013)

Jeffery O'Neal
Jeffery O'Neal had a long career in biotechnology, working at Calgene in the 1980's and at UC Davis in the 1990's. He partnered with our program via his role as director of the North Valley Biotechnology Center at American River College and, later, as director of the California Applied Biotechnology Centers.  In addition to collaborating on train-the-trainer workshops, he oversaw the annual in-kind donation of TBC t-shirts for the winning students. In this photo, Jeffery is presenting the TBC2009 Forensics Focus Area awards. Sadly, he passed away in May 2013, and is missed by colleagues throughout the California biotech education community. 

Clare Suzanne (Long) Wiley (1980 - 2014)

TBC 2009 Clare Wiley
Clare Long Wiley was a dedicated biotech teacher at River City High School in West Sacramento, as well as an active participant in our BioTech SYSTEM educational community. After an 11-year battle with cancer, our dear colleague passed away in 2014. She is shown here (far left) at TBC2009 with husband, David Wiley, Denneal Jamison-McClung and Lilibeth Pinpin (Hogan HS, Vallejo biotech teacher).

Doug Ford (1931 - 2018)

TBC2013 Doug Ford and Denneal
Doug Ford, former Air Force lieutenant colonel, Solano County Board of Education trustee and columnist for the Vacaville Reporter, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Biotech Program and Teen Biotech Challenge. He attended many of the awards programs, including TBC2013 (pictured) and his last awards celebration in May 2018.  Doug passed away later that year, after a battle with prostate cancer, and is dearly missed.