Program designed to show high school students benefits of science careers
Wichita, Kan. – Science professors, administrators, students and parents gathered together at a luncheon June 25 to celebrate the completion of the 20th annual Newman University Investigative Summer Science Program (ISSP). The program, which helps high school students explore the benefits of careers in the sciences, was sponsored by Newman University, the Fred C. & Mary R. Koch Foundation and the University of Kansas School of Medicine – Wichita.
The Newman ISSP was created in response to the national concern that a diminishing number of young people are pursuing careers in the sciences. Using a hands-on approach and drawing from the support of Newman science professors and Wichita area science professionals, the program is designed to offer students a look at the real world of scientific research. Students choose a research topic from a provided list upon entering the program. They then follow established research methods: performing a literature search; conducting experiments; analyzing data; drawing conclusions, and presenting findings in a written paper. The students are also encouraged to enter their papers at the annual meeting of the Kansas Junior Academy of Science.
Participating students are also eligible for the Investigative Summer Science Program scholarship – a $1,000 award to those who attend the program and later enroll at Newman.
This summer, 17 students from high schools in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma participated in the two-week program that ended with the celebratory luncheon, which was attended by an estimated 100 people.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Koch Foundation for making the 2009 Investigative Summer Science Program possible, and once again provided opportunities to students from 12 different high schools to carry out their scientific investigations,” said Newman Professor of Biology Surendra Singh, Ph.D., program founder and director. “We have been offering the ISSP for the last 20 years, and during this time, hundreds of young people have attended this program and eventually graduated from universities with baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in biology, chemistry, pharmacy, and physical therapy. Many former ISSP participants today are practicing medicine, dentistry, optometry, teaching in universities, and working in industries.”
In addition to honoring this year’s students, the luncheon featured appearances by previous participants, as well as remarks by former participants who were not able to attend, which were read by Singh. One former participant, Jonathon Winkler, is now completing a doctoral degree at Oxford University. He noted that the ISSP was, “my first introduction to the quotidian realities of research in the sciences. . . . I have had to take these lessons to heart many times since, particularly in several research projects I worked on as an undergraduate.”
Another message came from Jessica and Cassandra Balerna, who came to Kansas to attend the program while they were students at a high school in Viterbo, Italy, sponsored by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC), the founders and sponsors of Newman University. The students, who learned of the ISSP through a study abroad program Newman established in Viterbo, wrote, “Few years have passed since then, but the memory of those days is still alive. . . . We wish to express our gratitude to all of you. Thank you for teaching us the value of science and sacrifice.”
Former participant Katie Ludlow Archibald, now an accounting manager for Koch Fertilizer Trading in Geneva, Switzerland, wrote that the ISSP program was “so much more than spending a few weeks learning about science. It was a chance to develop myself as an independent thinker and look for ideas and solutions that went beyond the obvious. I have had many great mentors and experiences to guide me along my path, but I think Newman’s Summer Science Program was a great push in the right direction.”
The luncheon also included remarks by Susan Addington, vice president of public relations at Koch Industries, Roger Ramseyers of Invista (formerly of Koch) and James Ken Kallail, M.D., chairman of research at the University of Kansas School of Medicine – Wichita.
Sophomore, junior and senior high school students with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and one completed high school science course are selected for the ISSP through an application process, which considers their high school transcript, a letter of recommendation, and a 200-word essay explaining their career goals and why they should be admitted to the ISSP. Students receive room and board and two hours of Newman college credit for completing the program. The value of this education is estimated at more than $2,000, but students attend at no charge thanks to the program’s sponsors.
In addition to Singh, Newman faculty members who acted as instructors for this year’s program included Stacy Jones, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, biochemistry, genetics and microbiology; John Leyba, Ph.D., associate professor of physical chemistry and physics; Susan Orsbon, M.A., associate professor of biology and anthropology; Ronald Shipley, M.S.Ed., R.T., director of radiologic technology; and David Shubert, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, organic chemistry and earth and space science. Other ISSP instructors were Jane Griffith, M.L.S., University of Kansas School of Medicine, and Rahul Singh, M.D., ER Physician at Via Christi Medical Center.
For more information about the ISSP program, contact Singh at 316-942-4291 or via e-mail at [email protected].
Seventeen high school students from high schools in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma received hands-on research experience during the 2009 Investigative Summer Science Program conducted by Newman University in Wichita. Participants in the program were, (front row, left to right): Stanley Chan, Wichita; Mylene Thong, Kansas City, Mo.; Kura Thoumsavath, Derby; Anna Perinchery, Leawood, and Jean Wu, Edmond, Okla. (Second row, left to right): Courtney Waters, Wichita; Elizabeth Lim, Wichita; Joanna Liu, Carl Junction, Mo.; Michelle McCormick, Seammon, and Matthew Denton, Omaha, Neb. (Third row, left to right): Trista Rogers, Wichita; Maria Beth Wilson, Girard; Katy Gorentz, Arma; Taylor Batson, Girard, Adrienne Fox, Colwich; Miguel Correa, Wichita, and William Denton, Omaha.