Monrovia is fortunate to have an exciting scientific community in residence, and the Oak Crest Institute recently opened its doors to showcase its accomplishments. On Nov. 13, MADIA participants, along with the entire community, were invited to the Oak Crest compound on West Chestnut Avenue in Old Town Monrovia to see and learn about the many activities for students, scientists, and entrepreneurs that take place in their facility.
The Oak Crest Institute of Science is an innovative chemistry and biology research and education center engaging students and established scientists in medical and environmental projects. The mission of the organization is to promote scientific education and to help scientists commercialize their innovations. The Open House was designed to demonstrate the progress that the institute has been making since it renovated and moved in to its Monrovia office and laboratory facility in 2016, and to show off its new 8,000 square foot space now available for chemistry and life-science startups. A number of projects were being demonstrated, and children and grown-ups were able to participate and observe the work being done in the Oak Crest laboratories.
Dr. Chris Buser, a senior faculty member of Oak Crest, who also serves on the board of MADIA, explained that Oak Crest in the last year has hosted more than 100 students. Oak Crest collaborates with the City of Monrovia’s YES youth employment internship program, offering a Junior Research Academy for the past two summers, which gives high school students an opportunity to dive into science in a playful and impactful manner. In addition to the younger summer interns, and numerous tours and presentations, the facility also hosted students from Pasadena City College and Citrus College for a Summer Research experience. The Institute has just completed its Rose Hills Fellowship program that offered a six-month mentored science program for college students that provided hands-on laboratory work to develop practical research and professional skills for careers in fields like microbial ecology and atmospheric chemistry.
Earlier this year, Oak Crest received funding for a new initiative to promote scientific commerce. In collaboration with the City of Monrovia and Newton World Enterprises LLC, Oak Crest launched the “Monrovia – Oak Crest Science and Technology Incubator Program (MOST-IP)” to develop and mature internal and external discoveries into products; provide access to laboratory infrastructure, scientific know-how and high-end equipment; teach scientists and diverse students basic entrepreneurial concepts; and support the formation and sustainability of startups through continuing business services.
Over 100 visitors to the open house were able to enjoy treats from a taco truck while meeting and conversing with scientists and seeing the real-world practice of science. Tours of the new incubator space for developing commercial projects exhibited the practice of scientific research in its early stages, and the Institute highlighted the work being undertaken for the start of a phase1 clinical trail of a vaginal ring for HIV prevention.