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July 31, 2007 > Local Students Spend Summer as Researchers at UC Davis

Local Students Spend Summer as Researchers at UC Davis

Submitted By Donna Justice

While most high school students are lounging around the pool, playing video games, or maybe working at the nearest mall, three local seniors are spending their off-time doing research at UC Davis.

Students at Mission San Jose High School, Aimee Zhang, Katherine Eve and Brian McRae are among a select group of students attending the UC Davis Young Scholars Program this summer. The advanced science program, hosted by the School of Education, introduces up to 40 high achieving high school sophomores and juniors to the world of original research in the biological and natural sciences.

Participants work one-on-one with research faculty in state-of-the art laboratories for six weeks. Each student works on an individual project and prepares a professional-level research paper and presentation about his or her work.

"Students work under the direction of real-world researchers," said Rick Pomeroy, program director and teacher educator in the School of Education at UC Davis. "In fact, these high school students are engaged in research that most college undergraduates don't have an opportunity to do."

Zhang is studying plant proteins and hormones. Potential agricultural applications for her research include the ability to manipulate the physical structure of plants and development of potential herbicides.

Eve is conducting research on how lung diseases affect women at the UC Davis Center for Health and the Environment. Her experiment compares the lung injuries expressed in male and female mice that have been made tolerant to naphthalene, a harmful toxin found in cigarette smoke and moth balls.

McRae is studying the effects of a fungus on Yellow Starthistle, the most invasive weed in California. Yellow Starthistle infests over 14 million acres of rangeland, is poisonous to horses if consumed, and outcompetes other more desirable plants.

The program, which kicked off this year on June 24, immerses students in the entire college experience. During the first two weeks of the program, participants attend lectures focusing on recent developments in biology and natural sciences in the mornings and conduct lab science every afternoon. During the last four weeks of the program, students work full time in their labs. Students live in campus dormitories and take field trips every weekend.

To qualify for the program, students must have a strong academic record, have taken biology and two years of college preparatory mathematics, and recommendations from teachers. In addition, applicants must write a personal essay.

"All of the participants are highly qualified academically, take honors or advanced placement courses in high school and have high GPAs," said Pomeroy. "Most importantly, though, they have all demonstrated a desire and ability to conduct original scientific research and have the potential to contribute significantly to the field."

UC Davis School of Education
(530) 754-4826: office

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