As an aspiring teen scientist, you could hang at the library all summer perusing dusty tomes and surfin’ the ‘Net. But would that give you a true picture of what goes on inside the lab?
Utah State University’s Center for Integrated BioSystems invites intrepid scholars into the lab each July to experience cutting-edge research on a university campus. Since 2000, the CIB has offered its intensive five-day Summer Biotechnology Academy to provide high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty
mentors in a variety of disciplines.
“Students have the opportunity to choose projects from chemistry and biochemistry, biology; animal, dairy and veterinary sciences; biotechnology and genomics, food and nutrition sciences; biological and environmental engineering; plant and soil science and more,” says Afifa Sabir,
CIB education coordinator. “The academy offers students an exciting glimpse of the
wide range of study and career opportunities in biotechnology.”
USU Undergraduate Research Fellow Katherine Grover attended the academy between
her junior and senior years of high school.
“I wasn’t really interested in science until I took high school biology and I wasn’t sure about Utah State,” says Grover, a biology major and Presidential Scholarship recipient. “But once I attended the academy and saw what the university had to offer, I was really excited. I was hooked.”
Grover presented research she’s conducting on genomic sequencing with faculty mentor Paul Cliften to Utah legislators at the 2007 Undergraduate Research Day on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City. The Cache Valley native plans to pursue graduate work in medical research.
National Merit Scholar Keith Warnick also chose Utah State after attending the summer biotech academy. “I had narrowed my choices to two schools but decided on USU because it has a friendlier environment for undergraduate research,” says Warnick, who received an Honorable
Mention in 2006 in the prestigious Goldwater Scholar competition.
A physics major, Warnick is researching acoustic and electromagnetic waves in groups of particles with faculty mentor Timothy Doyle.
Undergraduate Research Fellow Uyen Lam made her first foray into lab research as a high school student at CIB’s summer academy.
“I was already looking at Utah State,” says Lam, who graduated from Utah’s Logan High School in 2004. “But the biotech academy taught me what research was.”
An aspiring physician, Lam believes her undergraduate research experience will aid in her quest to attend medical school. “Med schools don’t even look at your application if you don’t have research experience.”
An active member of USU’s Asian American Club, Lam says she wants to reach other multicultural students to make them aware of undergraduate research and scholarship opportunities at Utah State.
“I want to let others know about opportunities to get scholarships and gain research experience here at USU,” she says. “Dr. Sabir and the other professors were great resources for me and helped me get settled on campus.”
Lam has returned to subsequent biotech academies to help out as a peer mentor and says she’s impressed with the new learning opportunities that are added each year. “I would have liked to have learned what the new participants are doing when I was their age.”
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto,