Meet Amanda Grimes – Arizona Bioscience Educator of the Year

Amanda Grimes of the Mesa Public Schools Biotechnology Academy to receive the 2013 Michael A. Cusanovich Arizona Bioscience Educator of the Year Award at the 8th Annual AZBio Awards on October 10, 2013.

The Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio) today announced that Amanda Grimes , Biotech Academy Coordinator and Mesa High School CTE Teacher at Mesa Public Schools Biotechnology Academy has been named the 2013 Michael A. Cusanovich Arizona Bioscience Educator of the Year in recognition of her work in inspiring and encouraging our future bioscience leaders.  Grimes will be honored in Phoenix at the 2013 AZBio Awards on October 10, 2013.

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“She has opened my eyes to the world of biotechnology and I am enthralled to be a part of it, I will not go quietly in this field.” —Student at the Mesa Biotechnology Academy in tribute to Amanda Grimes, 2013 Michael A. Cusanovich Bioscience Educator of the Year.

The Michael A. Cusanovich Bioscience Educator of the Year Award is bestowed on the educator who, as a member of the faculty or administration of an educational institution, demonstrated the greatest leadership, creativity and/or actions to inspire students and encourage them in the biosciences.

“STEM education is a hot topic both here in Arizona and across the country” shared AZBio president and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker.  “Great educators open our eyes to possibilities. Working with their students, they inspire inquiry, make learning fun and demonstrate leadership on a daily basis. For those of us who may have left the classroom years ago, they create for us the gift of future scientists, engineers, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, and leaders.”

Some of the most important messages AZBio received about Mrs. Grimes work came from students she has helped to inspire:

 “She has taught each and every one of us that science can be fun too. A lot of people get stuck on the math but she opens it up to where it’s interesting and reels you in like a fish on a hook.”

“As a high school graduate I can look back upon my time as a student and pick out a few teachers who have influenced my life and helped me flourish as a student. The number one teacher on that list is Mrs. Grimes. Having had Mrs. Grimes as a teacher for two years has helped me make connections, plan my future, and given me opportunities no other teachers have ever attempted. Without Mrs. Grimes I never would have joined the Biotech Academy at Mesa High School, meaning I would never have discovered my love for science and research.”

“One of Mrs. Grimes’ most admirable qualities would be her patience with her students. Mrs. Grimes’ never ending patience and abundant respect for her students makes her an extraordinary teacher and mentor, always willing to answer questions or stay late to help. She does everything she can to ensure her students have every opportunity to advance their knowledge and experience beyond that of a typical high school student.”

“Mrs. Grimes always encourages her students to excel in every aspect of their life, whether that be academics, community service, or extracurricular activities. I, and many of my peers, admire Mrs. Grimes for her dedication to her career and her students and wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for her model of excellence.”

“She has opened my eyes to the world of biotechnology and I am enthralled to be a part of it, I will not go quietly in this field.”


The Biotechnology Academy (Mesa Public Schools) is a four-year program that provides freshmen-senior high students with experience in biotechnology theory and techniques, and prepares them for continuing education in Biotechnology Degree programs or related fields.

Students learn the history of  biotechnology, standard biotechnology lab procedures, about manipulation of DNA, transgenic plants and animals, the production of pharmaceuticals, how forensic science works, new frontiers in  gene therapy and the importance of Bioinformatics  The program combines science with 21st Century skills in communication, collaboration, integrity, and ethics.

Students maintain a research notebook, practice aseptic techniques, prepare solutions, use and maintain real laboratory equipment, and become familiar with the theory and techniques of recombinant DNA production, gene expression, bacterial cultures and plant tissue culture. This includes the isolation and analysis of DNA using restriction enzyme digestion, gel electrophoresis and PCR. Protein purification and analysis using western blots, ELISA, and chromatography. Second and Third Year students may apply to participate in paid and unpaid research internships.

Additional educational support is provided by the Mesa Biotech Academy Outreach Program at The Biodesign Institute Center for Innovations in Medicine with funding from the National Science Foundation grant.

“As an undergraduate working at ASU’s Biodesign Institute, I have the incredible opportunity to be able to work with Amanda for the Mesa Outreach program” shared Diana Nucuta, one of the two NSF funded undergraduate team members working with Mesa Biotech Academy students. “This excellent program is designed to teach high school students about concepts and processes integral to biology and science. The goal then is that these bright young people will then be able to finish high school with a broad range of skills that most biology programs do not even offer within the state of Arizona. Her students have been able to compete on the international level in competitions such as ISEF and at state and national HOSA: Future Health Professionals events. She is also extremely busy with working with the district writing the CTE assessments. Besides all the current extraordinary achievements she has been able to do while juggling a myriad of other things, she has co-written two lab manuals with her colleagues that are now in publication.”

Join the Celebration

The 8th Annual AZBio Awards will be held Thursday, October 10, 2013 at the Phoenix Convention Center.  In addition to the Gala Awards Luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the VWR Company Showcase and Student Discovery Showcase sponsored by NAU will highlight the work of Arizona’s current and future life science leaders from 10 am – 11:30 a.m. and again from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. so that attendees can see the work being done across the industry and interact with the leaders and future leaders who are driving bioindustry innovation.

In addition honoring Mrs. Grimes, the AZBio Awards will celebrate the achievements of:

  • 2013 AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement – Thomas M. Grogan, M.D., Founder of Ventana and SVP Medical Affairs at Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. a member of the Roche Group
  • 2013 Jon W. McGarity Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year – Linda Hunt, President and COO of Dignity Health Arizona
  • 2013 Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year – Leslie Boyer, M.D., The University of Arizona
  • 2013 AZBio Public Service Award – Mayor John Lewis, Town of Gilbert, Arizona
  • 2013 Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year – W.L. Gore  & Associates
  • 2013 AZBio Fast Lane Awards – Iron Horse Dx, Nasseo, Inc., and Yulex Corporation.

The list of past honorees can be viewed at:  For tickets and more information, visit


About the Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio) –

As Arizona’s statewide industry Association, AZBio is committed to working with our members across Arizona to support our industry as together we move forward faster.  AZBio provides access to the key resources, connections and information in our biosciences community. This provides the foundation to be able to Connect, Collaborate, Innovate and Succeed; thus supporting the growth of a thriving economic environment for Arizona’s Bioscience Industry today and in the future.

AZBio is the State Affiliate of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) located in Washington, D.C. and also collaborates on national issues with AdvaMed, PhRMA and other national and international organizations to move the Arizona Bioscience Industry forward faster.




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