Scott Weaver, Ph.D., and Kevin Le, 12th Grade, Jersey Village High School, Houston
Scott Weaver, Ph.D., and Kevin Le, 12th Grade, Jersey Village High School, Houston

UTMB summer program introduces Houston area high school students to bio-med careers

UTMB summer program introduces Houston area high school students to bio-med careers

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A select group of high school students are learning real-world scientific skills as they work on vital biomedical research at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston this summer.

The 2015 UTMB High School Biomedical Research Program selects the brightest science and math students from across the region to conduct research in line with their chosen career path. Only 10 students are invited to participate from more than 100 applicants. They are selected based on grades in science and math honors classes, standardized test scores, participation in extracurricular activities such as science fairs, and recommendations from science and math teachers and tutors.

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned here is science is all about collaboration,” said Kevin Le of Jersey Village High School in Houston, a two-time summer program student. “That’s completely different than high school in which competition is everything. In real science, it’s about how you can help other people with your data.”

All participants are paired up with mentors in areas of their interest. They actively work in a laboratory setting, contributing to the final results of extensive bio-medical research studies run by UTMB faculty and students. The high school students participate in weekly seminars and tours that cover a wide variety of topics over the course of eight-weeks.

The Biomedical Research Program sheds light on the work being done in the laboratory and clinic setting and gives the high school students experience generally only available to graduate and post-doctoral students. Many of the high school students go on to study science or medicine at the post-secondary level.

“I think the idea for high school students is if you get in and get some exposure and experience early on, it may motivate you,” said Scott Weaver, director of UTMB’s Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, who serves as a high school student mentor. “And if you get exposed to experimental research, and you like it, as a college student, you can look for opportunities to continue.”

2015 High School Biomedical Research Program Faculty Mentors and High School Interns

Rong Fang, pathology – Rida Sarwar, 10th grade, Pearland High School, Pearland

Celeste Finnerty, department of surgery – Stephanie Reyes, 11th grade, Clear Springs High, League City and Terome Reynolds, 11th grade, Ball High School, Galveston

Junji Iwahara, biochemistry and molecular biology, Sealy Center for Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics – Rolando Marquez, 10th grade, Sam Rayburn High School, Sugarland

Jere McBride, pathology; microbiology and immunology; Sealy Center for Vaccine Development – Ryan Vu, 10th grade, Clear Lake High School, Houston

Joan Nichols, internal medicine-Infectious Disease, Galveston National Laboratory – Daniil Weaver, Ball High, Galveston

Tracy Toliver-Kinsky, anesthesiology; biochemistry and molecular biology – Candice Tat, 11th grade, Friendswood High School, Friendswood

Gracie Vargas, neuroscience and cell biology; Center for Biomedical Engineering – Poojaba Zala, 12th grade, Ball High

Yogesh Wairkar, neurology and neuroscience graduate program – Serdjan Rolovic, 10th Grade, Dulles High School, Sugarland

Scott Weaver, microbiology and immunology – Kevin Le, 12th Grade, Jersey Village High School, Houston

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