Students Excel at UMSL STARS Summer Program

This summer, five Westminster Christian Academy students graduated from the 2017 Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Seniors Blake Andrews, Markus Cicka, Amie Lee, Daniel Wang, and Preston Willis, were among the 96 high school junior- and senior-level students from the St. Louis metro area to complete the program.

Among the program participants were 32 students who received special recognition for outstanding work on their research papers. Westminster seniors Andrews and Lee were each awarded the Partnership of Research Institution’s Award for Excellence in Research.

All papers were reviewed by a panel of judges from Monsanto, Confluence Life Science, SIU-Edwardsville, and UMSL. Each paper was evaluated for quality based on industry standards to determine the worthiness of formal publication.

Throughout the program, students were each paired with top research mentors from the St. Louis area to work as student apprentices in laboratories and complete research projects. Andrew’s research paper, “The use of DNA aptamers as electrochemical biosensors for pesticides,” was completed under the direction of Dr. Dana Baum of Saint Louis University. Mentored by Dr. Steven Mumm of Washington University, Lee wrote on “Haplotype analysis for founder studies in two common recessive hypophosphatasia mutations.”

In addition to laboratory work and extensive research, students also attended lectures by nationally known scientists from the St. Louis science community and enjoyed social events on and off campus. The six-week program was held the second week of June through the third week in July. University of Missouri System President Mun Choi was the featured speaker for the confirmation ceremony held at the program’s conclusion.

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