STARS Students Learn More About Research
Published on 13 November 2019
St. Louis College of Pharmacy is exposing local high school students to scientific enterprise and research opportunities through the Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) program.
During this six-week program, outstanding high school students participate in independent research projects under the supervision of research mentors from the College, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the Cortex Innovation Community.
Participants also attend social events and presentations by nationally known scientists, and submit a 20-page technical report. Upon completion of the program, students present their results and participate in a confirmation ceremony.
“This program allows high school students to contribute directly to collegiate-level research and potentially go on to be published,” Dana Morrone, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and STARS research mentor, said. “For students interested in a career in science or health care, their participation in this program can set them apart when applying to college.”
This summer, 88 students participated in the program and 29 students earned the Partnership of Research Institutions Award for Excellence in Research. The College hosted three students under the supervision of Morrone and John Beale, Ph.D., professor of medicinal chemistry.
“One advantage high school students have conducting research at a smaller school, like ours, is that they can play an active role on the team right away,” Morrone said. “The students were able to dive into experiments and work directly with a professor to complete their projects.”
Connie Chen, a senior from Ladue Horton Watkins High School, worked with Morrone to compare pH profiles of plant enzymes in order to determine the optimum pH, the pH level that allows an enzyme to react the fastest. Chen’s work earned her the Partnership of Research Institutions Award for Excellence in Research.
Her data will be used by Morrone and his research team to conduct experiments on the enzymes at the proper pH level. Eventually, Morrone and his research team hope to discover how these enzymes could be used to inform decisions regarding the testing of new pharmaceuticals or used in clinical lab testing.
“Connie did a great job presenting her data and understanding its impact on future research,” he said. “My students generated usable data and were critical additions to our research team.”
Morrone plans to finalize the results of the enzyme testing for this project in the near future and submit it for publishing.
“I’m hopeful it will be accepted for publication soon so the students can be identified as authors on the project just in time to add it to their college applications,” he said. “They deserve to be recognized for their contributions to our research.”
To learn more about research at the College, visit stlcop.edu/research.