In disciplines ranging from global studies to astrophysics to psychology, high school students are getting a chance to do graduate-level research alongside UCSB scientists in the Research Mentorship Program. While their peers might spend the summer doing everything in their power to avoid academics, 71 students from as close as Santa Barbara and as far away as India are diving into projects that will generate a top-notch academic paper and a poster to present their findings.
Students spend six weeks in the lab and also learn to network, build a résumé, and figure out how to present their ideas in a professional and compelling manner. “The aim is to change the way students are thinking about research. We want to expose them to research in a way that’s both captivating and creative,” says Dr. Lina Kim, the program’s director.
To further the inspiration, Dr. Kim has started a series of ground-breaking research and innovative technology talks, or GRIT, talks. These GRIT talks are free, open to the public, and showcase some of the most brilliant minds in research. The speakers captivate the audience every Monday and Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Within the Research Mentorship Program (RMP) are special grant-funded fellowships from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Since 2003, CIRM has given UCSB an annual grant that allows seven high school students to participate in stem cell research. The young students must have a keen understanding of biology and/or chemistry, and this year’s seven were chosen from Dos Pueblos High School, Dunn School, San Marcos High, Laguna Blanca School, Cate School, and Ventura High.
CIRM students are especially goal oriented as at the end of the six-weeks, one is chosen to present his or her research in front of experts at CIRM in San Francisco. Carly Larsson, a former CIRM student and current Global Studies RMP student said, “It was an amazing and challenging experience. Everyone’s at the same caliber so our goals were always progressing to match our colleagues’. The passion this program instills in its students inspired me to get more engaged not only academically but within the community as well.”