For some, the fields of engineering, technology, biology and medicine may seem somewhat unrelated. After all, what does a computer, engine, molecule and prescription have to do with each other?

But as human life continues to evolve and new advances are made in each of these fields, it is clear the degree to which these areas of study are actually inter-related and dependent upon one another.

The evidence bears this out — artificial hips now last more than 25 years; artificial human vision is a growing possibility for those who once could see but have lost their sight; and the engineering discipline is now considered one of the best ways to prepare for medical school among a growing population of high-achieving students.

Biotechnology is a field of biology that involves living organisms and processes in engineering, technology and medicine that require bio-products for purposes such as manufacturing. In the case of an artificial hip, all of these fields come into play as manufacturers continue to seek the right ingredients to one day create a life-long hip replacement component.

Most importantly, professionals who work in biotechnology often make discoveries that fight diseases, help improve the production of food sources and create technologies that help keep the environment cleaner. According to many analysts and experts, biotechnology will become one of the most important fields in the 21st century.

So it’s fitting that Henry Ford Community college’s biotech program, led by Jolie Stepaniak, presented the first Outstanding Biotechnology Student Award to Dearborn resident Cynthia Morris. This award symbolizes the HFCCs science department’s biotechnology program as an academic field that students are interested in studying given the growing importance of this field on human life.

For Stepaniak, the department is thoroughly impressed with Morris’s commitment and talents, and sought a proper way to recognize her outstanding work.

“Cynthia is one of those students who comes along once in a great while,” Stepaniak said. “This recognition is very well-deserved — she’s an exceptional student among a group of great students and all of the biotechnology faculty agreed that we needed to honor her achievements. She is talented, has wonderful analytical skills, she learns quickly and we are confident she will do extremely well in whatever career path she takes.”

Some of Morris’ more noteworthy achievements since enrolling at HFCC in 2009 include a 4.0 GPA and the 2011 Outstanding Biology Student Scholarship that she won from the Village Herb Associates of The Henry Ford. This summer, she will enhance her academic experience and training with an internship in Melody Neely’s laboratory at Wayne State University’s Department of Immunology and Microbiology, where Morris will study microbial pathogenesis and streptococcal virulence using zebra fish as model organisms. In simple terms, Morris will examine how bacteria cause disease.

Morris was very surprised to receive this award and said that she was “excited, honored and a bit embarrassed by the attention. I came back to school after staying home and raising my children. I started my college career in the engineering field some years ago and I’m very happy with how my HFCC education has turned out.”

She also said that when her husband and children learned of this award, they were thrilled. Her son earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan and her daughter is a senior majoring in biology at Central Michigan University.

Morris will graduate with her associate’s degree in applied science biotechnology in August. Her future plans may include securing a position as a research technician in a biomedical research field, as well as completing her bachelor’s degree.

To learn more about the HFCC Science Dept. and Biotechnology Program, please call (313) 845-6310 or visit


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