Bianca Mothé, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences at California State University (CSU), San Marcos, is dedicated to helping underrepresented students find their place in the sciences. Mothé is an expert in immunology and vaccine design, and she is currently serving as a visiting scientist in the La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) lab of Professor Sujan Shresta Ph.D.
For Mothé, spending time at LJI is one part of bringing the wider biotechnology community together. “As a scientist and educator, I want to create opportunities for underrepresented students to engage in cutting-edge science,” she says. “As a scientist, this involves staying connected and fostering collaborations with other scientists. As an educator, this involves exposing students and allowing them to immerse themselves in science.”
Mothé recently won the 2023 Andreoli Faculty Service Award, which honors CSU faculty who have demonstrated the highest level of service to the CSU system’s biotechnology community. Her service includes leadership as interim executive director of CSU’s Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB). CSUPERB is a funding organization that supports diversity and mentorship in the fields of biotechnology.
“I have always focused on serving underrepresented students and ensuring that they have opportunities for career advancement, including work and further education,” says Mothé. “I was also able to step in as interim executive director of CSUPERB during the pandemic and work with committed and incredible faculty and staff in CSUPERB. This award is a recognition of these efforts, and I am incredibly honored to have received it this year.”
Mothé also serves as director of the CSU COMPASS training program, which aims to provide a diverse group of students with hands-on training and mentorship in the field of regenerative medicine. Under her leadership, the COMPASS program recently received a nearly $3 million, five-year grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which will fund stem cell awareness at three North County high schools; support 30 students for two years of training; and provide diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training for research mentors. LJI is a partner in the COMPASS program.
Many CSU students Mothé works with are the first in their families to go to college. Mothé wants her students to learn about the wide range of careers in biotechnology, whether they are drawn to business, engineering, or traditional scientific fields such as chemistry and biology.
Mothé received the award at the 35th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium this month. Her former student, Sergio Ita, Ph.D., who today serves as a principle investigator at Thermo Fisher Scientific, spoke at the ceremony and shared the impact of Mothé work.
“Bianca accepted me into her lab and taught me some of the most fundamental skills in molecular biology, genetics, and immunology,” said Ita. Her
“I came to CSUSM as a recent marine veteran, first generation and transfer student,” said Ita. “At that fragile time, I had taken a course in immunology with Dr. Mothé. In one of those moments of clarity, I realize I not only want to pursue this fascinating intersection of infectious disease and immunology but that I wanted to work with Dr. Mothé.”
“Bianca accepted me into her lab and taught me some of the most fundamental skills in molecular biology, genetics, and immunology,” added Ita.
How does working as a visiting scientist at LJI support these goals? “LJI has some of the most cutting edge science in San Diego,” says Mothé. “I am honored to be collaborating with LJI scientists. This creates opportunities for my students to access these projects.”
The Andreoli Award is named for late CSU Los Angeles Chemistry Professor Anthony Andreoli, Ph.D., an advocate for providing opportunities in higher education for underrepresented and non-traditional students.
Learn more about LJI and CSU collaboration: