Ricks will oversee and expand the impact of the Institute’s Minority and Indigenous Fellows Program, a yearlong mentoring program sponsored by Amgen that pairs industry Mentors with Fellows who are undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from underserved populations at colleges and universities. Ricks will also lead the Institute’s initiatives to encourage development of a biotechnology workforce through two- and four-year college programs and to link those programs to industry.

“Irelene’s hiring is an indication of the importance of diversity to the field of biotechnology and the Institute,” says Paul A. Hanle, president of the Biotechnology Institute. “Diversity is not just about gender, race or religion: it’s about diverse thinking that leads to innovation. You only have this diversity of thinking if you have the full range of the brightest and most talented people.”

Ricks was most recently director of minorities affairs for the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). While at ASCB, Ricks also served as principal investigator for the 2004 National Science Foundation Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) grant and was the manager of the National Institutes of Health $1.4 million Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) grant.

In the past, Ricks has served as grants administrator for the Graduate School at Howard University, where she was also adjunct faculty in the Department of Political Science. Ricks has more than a decade of government and government contracting experience including positions at the White House, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

About the Biotechnology Institute

The Biotechnology Institute is as an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact of biotechnology. Its mission is to engage, excite and educate the public, particularly students and teachers, about biotechnology and its immense potential for solving human health, food and environmental problems. For more information, visit www.biotechinstitute.org.

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