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NECC’s Lab Science Program Receives Educational Endorsement

Submitted by on January 19, 2018 – 8:33 pm

NECC Professor Kevin Mitchell, third from left, works with left to right NECC lab science students Darrin Perrault of Haverhill, Angie Abreu of Methuen, and Gabriela Santana of Lawrence.

If a science program could be “hip” then the Northern Essex Community College’s lab science program is just that. Even MassBioEd thinks so.

The laboratory science program at NECC is so current, it now offers a forensic science concentration. Because of its forward thinking and workforce preparedness, the program, for the third time in recent years, received an endorsement from the state’s leading science education organization.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) presented Northern Essex with a Platinum Endorsement – its highest acknowledgement. Educational programs are eligible every three years. NECC’s lab science program received a Platinum Endorsement in 2014 and a Gold Endorsement in 2011. It was one of five Massachusetts community colleges to receive the Platinum Endorsement for 2017.

MassBioEd is a nonprofit organization that promotes a world-class life science industry in this region through educational programs that inspire students and engage teachers.

NECC’s Associate Degree in Applied Science in Laboratory Science met the criteria established by MassBioEd which includes a curriculum that aligns with the core competencies developed by leaders from both the academic and biotechnology industry.

The program prepares graduating students for transfer and/or careers in the life sciences field. It was designed in response to a widespread local need for skilled lab technicians and offers four areas of concentration: forensics, biotechnology, environmental sciences, and chemical analysis.

“Our program’s critical emphasis is still on strong, industry relevant laboratory skills, career support, and externship training,” says Marguerite L. White-Jeanneau, Ph.D.
associate professor in NECC’s Natural Sciences Department.

The first year of the program focuses on developing science, computer and math skills, and training in good laboratory practices as well as strong “soft skills” deemed desirable by employers such as communication, teamwork, and analytical reasoning.

The second year focuses on further developing analytical skills, training in the use of specialized equipment such as high performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography, and becoming familiar with cell culture techniques. Also, in the second year, students spend time in externships to acquire work experience in the field. Externships might take place at: biotechnology companies, universities, the Department of Environmental Protection and other state or wildlife agencies, crime labs, or biopharmaceutical companies. In addition, the program provides the foundation to pursue a career as a medical lab technician.

The forensic concentration was added to the program in the fall of 2016.

“There is a lot of job growth in the field,” according to NECC Professor Mike Cross, Ph.D., also a professor in NECC’s Natural Sciences Department. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth of 17 percent from 2016 to 2026.  The average wage for forensic science technicians was $56,750 in 2016.”

For additional information on the lab science program, contact Kim Waligora at Kevin Mitchell at