A LITTLE SUMMER VOCATION
Baylor gives high school students chance to explore science
By LoANA M. GONZALES
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Summer and science.
While some high school students wouldn't utter the two words in the same
breath, 10 teens from across the country chose to spend part of their
summer studying everything from air pollution to chemotherapy treatments.
This marks the fifth year Baylor University has hosted
the High School Summer Science Research Fellowship Program.
Aimed at students who are superior in science, the program
allows the youths to attend Baylor as registered students for the first
summer session. Each student works under a professor who serves as his
or her mentor.
Through the fellowship program, Baylor provides
tuition, room and most fees. Students need only provide meals for the
five-week program, which ends July 1.
And when the program is over, the students will
have earned one hour of college credit.
Janice O'Bryant, administrative assistant to the
vice provost for research at Baylor, said she has helped organize the
program. But what she most enjoys is meeting the students because they
have a genuine interest in gaining knowledge.
"They're excited about learning and having
this opportunity," O'Bryant said. "They show a great deal of
interest, and they're very eager to learn more. Some of these kids were
reading material in preparation for their visit here."
The 10 students in this year's program come
from Texas, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Oklahoma and Arkansas. All
will be high school seniors in the fall.
For Teresa Laky, a student from Hackettstown,
N.J., attending the summer research program has allowed her to continue
working on a science fair project she started during her sophomore year.
| "I'm trying to counteract the effects of
air pollution with ascorbic acid," she said of her work.
Surrounded by blooming bean sprouts and handmade
controlled environments, Laky said being at Baylor, has allowed her to study
under helpful mentors and graduate students.
Most importantly, this summer has given Laky a chance
to do more than read about science.
"The more you know, the more you want to know,"
she said. "This is hands on, instead of always reading about it. It's
really, really exciting."
Jeanne Steingraber, a student from Duncanville,
"I didn't know what any of this stuff was,"
she said while looking at the equipment in the chemistry lab.
Steingraber is working under Professor Kevin
Pinney and his research group.
Pinney explained that his team is currently studying
"new and potentially useful chemotherapy agents."
The study has been so interesting, Steingraber said
she plans to stay at Baylor for the second summer session to continue working
with the research group.
"It's great," she said. "I want to
have the experience."
During the five-week program, students are mentored by a Baylor faculty
member. Their days usually last from morning to evening. During that time,
the students conduct research, sit in and audit other classes, and attend
"The program wouldn't be a success if we didn't
have the cooperation of the faculty," O'Bryant said of the evening
seminars. "It is a volunteer thing by the professors."
The courses of study for this year's program are
biology, chemistry, environmental studies, physics, computer science, and
O'Bryant said the science program benefits the students
as well as Baylor, a school known primarily for its liberal arts program.
| "The program was the idea of a benefactor who
wanted to bring in talented science students with the idea that they may
possibly decide on Baylor as their college choice," she said, noting
that the benefactor wanted to remain anonymous.
Usually, Baylor does get "a few" students from the program, O'Bryant said.
Thomas Charlton, vice provost for research, heads
the research program.
Although Charlton is currently out of the country,
O'Bryant said he works closely with the program structure and the students.
"He meets the kids, and he has them in his home."
All the lab coats and experiments aside, O'Bryant
said that when the summer is over, the students will leave Baylor with more
than a wealth of knowledge about scientific research.
"When they leave here, this won't be the last
time they see each other," she said. "They seem to continue keeping
in touch. They've made what I think will be lifelong friends."