December 2019 Newsletter

Our December issue looks back at 2019 and looks forward to 2020, along with good news from SCC and around the state.                                                                                                             


December 2019  |   Member Newsletter




Ringing in a New Year Full of Potential

It is time to put a bow on another year, another decade. I believe the saying is “time flies when you are having fun.”

Before we move on to 2020, it is only right to look back at 2019. This year brought us Nova-Tech and Gloria Thesenvitz being awarded the Governor’s Bioscience Award; Dr. Matt Andrews being named the new Nebraska EPScoR Director; Veramis opening its new production facility in Blair; the 150th anniversary of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, my alma mater; Des Moines hosting the BIO World Congress of Industrial Biotechnology; a successful Biosciences Month; the addition of Sasha Forsen to the Bio Nebraska team; and the departure of Bio Nebraska’s longtime leader, Phil Kozera.

What will 2020 bring us? I wish I knew the answer. However, I do know that Bio Nebraska will be hard at work promoting, growing and supporting Nebraska’s bio industry. We will be in Lincoln helping shape the ImagiNE Nebraska Act (LB720); growing our Women in STEM initiative; strengthening Nebraska’s workforce; and building relationships across the state. There might also be a couple of surprises along the way, so keep checking our website (hint).

In 2010, Dr. Jim McClurg, former Bio Nebraska Board Chair and current president of Technical Development Resources Company, said, “The bioscience industry is a key industry for Nebraska and has tremendous growth potential.” Nine years later, I couldn’t agree with him more. Let’s see if we can move on from “potential” over the next ten years.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, thoughts, etc. This is your association and I want to make sure Bio Nebraska is doing all it can to help you.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to the year to come.

Happy New Year!

Best Regards,

Rob Owen
Executive Director, Bio Nebraska

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75c8d039bff5c1e02e804e49b97afd91Emotional Intelligence Workshop for Nebraska Women in STEM

January 23, 2020

Omaha NE


f8cf73331d6948b1c88a96ac7950ba81Bio & Beers (Omaha)

January 30, 2020
Omaha, NE

08b41679667886c948d19bf342281566Women in STEM Breakfast
March 2020
Lincoln, NE


af30ee7cdf2674499a5213d87490f3372020 Partnering for Growth | Iowa BIO

March 10-11, 2020
Ankeny, IA





Bio Nebrask5e51d39c594dd48762117727793dc98ca Annual Meeting (TBD) 

April 2020
Omaha, NE



e28c0afd0caeb1f4ab9d1b2d1c66b11aLife Sciences on the Links (Iron Horse Golf Course) 

May 2020
Ashland, NE 

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The SCC Biotech Team. (L to R): Susanne Helms, Tracy Niday, and Misty Wehling

SCC Looks to Expand Bio Science Collaboration

In the spotlight this month is Misty Wehling of Southeast Community College and SCC’s shaping of future life science workers.

Q.    Misty, what is SCC’s role in educating the workforce in the life sciences?

A.    We have heard from industry that it is a challenge to hire entry-level workers with the right skills. Our students complete two years of training to get a background in biology, chemistry and math, plus hands-on laboratory skills. We train students to properly maintain a lab notebook, along with a focus on quality, and teach how regulators like USDA and FDA will impact their daily work. Our final biotech course is a practicum that places students in industry for one term. This provides experiences for students and gives companies a chance to hire them.

Q.    What kind of degrees can students receive?

A.    In addition to our current associate of science degree, we recently were approved to apply to accrediting bodies to offer a new industry-recognized certificate and diploma. Students could get the certificate in one year and take courses for an entry-level job. The certificate would stack into a diploma requiring more courses. The diploma would then stack into a full associate of science degree. We will spend the next few months inviting industry input and configuring the courses.

Q.    What are the primary occupations your students aim for?

A.    After graduating from SCC, 100 percent of our students have found employment as technicians in local biotech companies. Others plan to continue at a four-year institution majoring in biology, biomedical science, biochemistry, microbiology or biotechnology. Biotech courses at SCC are set up so students can acquire the skills for a technician job. They also can transfer all courses to all four-year institutions in Nebraska. This transferability empowers students to continue their education, even their immediate goal is to enter the workforce.

Q.    What are your program’s biggest opportunities?

A.    In the few years we have been involved with Bio Nebraska, the life-science sector has seen tremendous growth. This is expected to continue. Our biggest opportunity is to really listen to the workforce needs of southeast Nebraska and design strategies and courses to meet those needs. Another opportunity is to collaborate with similar programs in our region and nationally to learn of strategies working elsewhere. We are fortunate to have a small grant from the National Science Foundation to help us do this work.

Q.    What are your biggest challenges?

A.    Our greatest challenge is most high school and college students are not aware of life-science career opportunities. In our college-level biotech and in ag/bioscience courses at the high-school Career Academy, we take students on field trips and invite guest speakers to improve awareness. In reality, though, we need to do more outreach in elementary and middle school. Students there are already making decisions that impact STEM career interest. We are excited to partner with the new Lincoln STEM Ecosystem to reach LPS students and connect with our community’s formal and informal STEM networks. In the future, we would like to partner with Nebraska EPSCoR to offer a biotech summer camp to middle-school students.

Q.    How can more Bio Nebraska members connect with SCC?

A.    We are grateful for the support of Bio Nebraska members! Many have provided tours for instructors and students, sent guest speakers, given input to our curriculum and even donated equipment and supplies. We invite you to connect with SCC. My email is You also can connect with our workforce leadership team.

Q.    SCC serves a very large region. Are life science education needs different in urban vs rural areas?

A.    Whether a student is in a rural or urban area, there are often transportation, work schedule or family obligations that restrict time. So, we offer hybrid courses with online lectures and labs that meet on campus once a week. SCC serves a 15-county region and has two rural-area campuses in Beatrice and Milford. There are many more things we could do, given enough interest, money and time. This includes equipping rural teachers to offer biotech labs, expanding our connections to more rural biotechnology-related companies and offering summer camps and college classes on SCC’s rural campuses.


Green Plains, Novozymes Partner in Protein Production
Green Plains and Novozymes will work together to make high-protein ingredients for aquaculture, pet food and the global protein market. The deal brings together Green Plains biorefinery and distribution system with Novozymes microbiology. The work will start in 2020 at Green Plains protein facility Shenandoah, Iowa.

EPA Ethanol Mandate Falls Short of Industry Hopes
The Nebraska Ethanol Board expressed disappointment with final EPA rules on refiner obligations to use ethanol for 2020.

Regents Confirm Walter “Ted” Carter as NU President.
Walter Carter, the past superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, will assume overall NU leadership on Jan. 1.

Calculator Informs Rooftop Solar Evaluation
NPPD offers a new calculator here to estimate costs and benefits of installing solar panels.

New "Leading Nebraska" Podcast Features NBDC
NU released a new episode of its “Leading Nebraska” podcast series, featuring Nebraska Business Development Center support for economic development. Based at UNO, NBDC also has offices in Chadron, Grand Island, Kearney, Lincoln, Norfolk, North Platte, McCook, Scottsbluff and Wayne.

UNeMed Top 10 from 2019
UNeMed made a lot of news last year, as highlighted in this review of key events, people and inventions. 


UNL’s Dan Uden (left) and Dirac Twidwell are using advanced technology to monitor the Sandhills ecosystem.

Monitoring Sandhills Would Preserve Unique Ecosystem
Using supercomputers, land-cover data and ecological theory, UNL researchers are advocates of catching early warning signs of irreversible shifts in grassland ecosystems. “There's a tipping point at which your system is fundamentally altered,” said Dirac Twidwell, associate professor of agronomy and horticulture.

New UNL Vice Chancellor Named
Elizabeth Spiller was appointed UNL executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. She will begin work in March, pending approval by the NU Regents. Her career path includes the University of California at Davis, Virginia Tech, Florida State University and the University of North Texas.


(From left) Interim NU President Susan Fritz, Ken Cowan, Pamela Buffett and UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey Gold.

Ken Cowan Honored with Presidential Chair
Kenneth Cowan, director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, was named the Fred and Pamela Buffett Presidential Chair in Cancer. The award is the highest academic honor NU can bestow on a faculty member. "Ken Cowan is a man of medicine, a man of great vision," Jeffrey Gold said. "But what sets him apart and makes him truly special is his unique ability to connect with people.”

Slow Growth Forecast for Nebraska’s economy
Growing personal income will support job growth in the health care, leisure, finance, business service and construction industries, according to the latest three-year forecast from the UNL Bureau of Business Research and the Nebraska Business Forecast Council. Farm income will remain relatively flat, depending on government support, while manufacturing and retail will shed jobs.