August 11, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to summer...

Salk high school scholars, scientists of the future, present research

Salk News

A funny thing happened on the way to summer…

Salk high school scholars, scientists of the future, present research

La Jolla—Our next generation of Scientists have arrived. Salk’s high school scholars – students from around San Diego County – gather at the Institute every summer to participate in hands-on laboratory experiences under the mentorship of a Salk scientist. The young scientists will present their findings today during the “Summer Research Presentations” event at 1:00 pm in the Trustees Room at the Salk Institute.

The Salk High School Scholars program was founded more than 40 years ago by Jonas Salk to provide opportunities for high school students to experience life in a scientific laboratory and explore the possibility of a career in science.

“Every summer we are more inspired than the last,” said Dona Mapston, Salk Education Specialist. She continued, “A great example is Jake Maskiewicz from University City High School. He is a second year intern with our program and was brought back by Dr. Tatyana Sharpee’s Computations Neurobiology Lab early this spring to start working on projects even before this year’s summer program started.” Jake’s work as an intern at Salk helped bolster his education opportunities and will be attending UC San Diego this fall as a Jacobs Scholar, a 4-year full-ride scholarship. He will also continue his work in the Salk lab.

Through the eight-week program, students are involved with a full-time research project as well as enrichment activities. Students learn how to formulate and test hypotheses, prepare experiments and draw conclusions from those experiments. They also learn to maintain laboratory notebooks and take part in regular lab meetings and group discussions. This event culminates in an opportunity for students to present their research projects to their mentors, lab members and families.

Noelle Ocen-Odoge, a graduate from Santana High School, spent her summer in Dr. Joanne Chory’s Plant Biology Lab. Serendipitously this was an exceptionally exciting time to work in the Plant Biology program at Salk, considering the program was recently ranked number one in the World by Thomson Reuters, based on citations by highly cited papers.

“Being able to learn and work alongside scientists at the Salk gave me a new perspective on how research is conducted in the labs. By doing this program I have gained knowledge about science, but also its major impact on society,” said Noelle Ocen-Odoge. She continued, “My most memorable moment at the Salk was sitting in on a lab meeting hearing scientists collaborate together on research that will ultimately lead to discoveries that could help change the world.”

In addition to Jake and Noelle, the following students will be presenting: Ryan Matonis, Poway High School, from Dr. Mannings Bioinformatics Lab; Jeanniffer Prieto, Lincoln High School and Tiffany Lo, The Bishop’s School, from Dr. Ecker’s Plant Biology Lab; Yelizaveta Lukasheva, Torrey Pines High School and Eric Tenort, Castle Park High School, from Dr. Evans Gene Expression Lab; Alyssa Herperger, Canyon Crest Academy, from Dr. Noel’s Chemical Biology and Proteomics Lab; Alec Payne, Saint Augustine High School, from Dr. Gage’s Genetics Lab; and Andrew Lee, The Bishop’s School, from Dr. Heinemann’s Molecular Neurobiology Lab.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies supports a broad program of activities aimed at bringing the excitement of science and scientific discovery to the San Diego community. These activities include several efforts in middle school and high school education, with an overall goal of heightening student and teacher enthusiasm for the biological sciences and current research approaches.

About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world’s preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused both on discovery and on mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and infectious diseases by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

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