STAR Lab

Students Taking Advantage of Research (STAR) Lab is a high school outreach collaboration at the University of Arizona. The STAR Lab opened in November 2019 on the first floor of Biosciences West. As a collaboration between the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Southern Arizona Research Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF), the STAR Lab supports high school student research and engineering projects.   In our inaugural year, twenty area high school students worked with 14 different University of Arizona mentors to complete research projects, which were presented at the SARSEF Science Fair (March, 2020).

We were very excited to grow and expand our program in the second year but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all STAR Lab research partnerships will be online for 2020-2021.  Research will begin September 28, 2020 and run through January 29, 2021.  Students will then dedicate their time on the creation of a research poster, which will be presented at the SARSEF Science Fair March 4, 2021.

Watch this video about six students from Pueblo High School who were accepted in the S.T.A.R. Lab research program this year and will present their research projects at SARSEF in March 2021!

Application Process

If you are interested in participating in the virtual 2020/2021 STAR Lab, please complete the S.T.A.R. Lab application. You will also need to send an unofficial transcript to margaret@sarsef.org.  In addition, you will need two references, one from your nominating teacher and one from another teacher or professional with whom you have worked.    Applications close on September 21, 2020.  All applicants will be contacted on September 25 with updates.  

Project Information

Your research question/ project may involve big data, bioinformatics, biomedical research data, climate, GPS/ArcView, virtual computing, programming or other questions that can be completed virtually.

Students (individually or in small teams) will be paired with research mentors. The research mentor will be responsible for ensuring the scientific integrity of the research. Once the projects are established and up and running, research mentors and mentees will meet a minimum of once a week for 30 minutes to an hour to discuss and review progress.

Additional support for the high school researchers will come in the form of undergraduate support mentors.  Undergraduate support mentors will work with a small cadre of high school researchers to troubleshoot challenges and help maintain the community of science and learning while students are working remotely.

Please note, although the STAR Lab is housed in Molecular and Cellular Biology, the outreach program supports students and mentors in all fields of science. 

Sign Up to Be a Research Mentor

Sign up to be STAR Lab Research Mentor here.

Videos

Click on the photo belows to hear Dr. Joyce Schroeder, MCB Department Head, share information about STAR lab!

       

Hear students talk about their STAR Lab projects!

            


STAR Lab students that shined brightly at SARSEF 2021 Science Fair

In 2021 we had 31 students present at SARSEF and 27 of them won awards!  Four of the students were selected with the distinction of presenting at the International Science and Engineering Fair!  In addition, we had three students place at the AZ Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, which means they will be going to the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and one of them will be presenting.  

SARSEF Awards

Alexander Nelson – 1st Place Plant Science and International Science and Engineering Finalist, SARSEF Scholarship and UArizona Scholarship

mRNA sequence analysis to determine genes causing unilateral incompatibility in S. lycopersicum and S. pennellii

Mentor: Dr. Ravishankar Palanivelu

Esha Mathur – 1st Place Microbiology and Science, International Science and Engineering Finalist, SARSEF Scholarship and UArizona Scholarship

Prophages within Symbiotic and Free-Living Terrestrial Cyanobacteria

Mentor: Dr. Jana U'Ren

Isabel Ross – 1st Place Earth and Environmental Science and Science, International Science and Engineering Finalist, SARSEF Scholarship and UArizona Scholarship

Green Infrastructure Impacts on Carbon Cycling: Evaluating Changes in Soil Microbial Composition and Function

Mentor: Vanessa Buzzard

Karah Mayer – 1st Place Cellular and Molecular Biology and Science, International Science and Engineering Finalist, SARSEF Scholarship, Best of Cellular & Microbiological Sciences, Jack Johnson Arizona Excellence in Science and UArizona Scholarship

In Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Patient Tissue, UG Rich RNA is Not Preferentially Soluble as Predicted

Mentor: Erik Lehmkuhl

Nicole Dennis Talley – 1st Place Biochemical Science and Bioengineering and SARSEF Scholarship

Study of Small Molecules Targeting Superoxide Dismutase (SOD1) in Familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Mentor: Dr. Vijay Gokhale

Nikhil Mathur – 1st Place Health and Biomedical Science and SARSEF Scholarship

KRAS mutational stays and it’s relationship to gender, stage and other RAS expressions in Non Small Cell Lung Cancer

Mentor: Alyssa Werner

Zander Dickey – 1st Place Animal Science

Active sensing for the Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus Fuscus) when faced with unpredictable situations

Mentor: Dr. Mel Wohlgemuth

Annalise Mendoza – 2nd Place Behavioral & Social Science and AFSP - Arizona Chapter Sponsored Award

How the Pandemic Impacted Activities and Mental Health in College Students (The Relation Between Factors of Social Isolation and Depression/Stress)

Mentor: Dr. Eve Isham

Ellis Selznick – 2nd Place Earth and Environmental Science and American Meteorological Society and Prescott College -- For the Liberal Arts, the Environment and Social Justice Sponsored Awards

A Synthesis of Indian Monsoon Records Over the Last Glacial Cycle: Insights from the Bay of Bengal

Mentor: Dr. Kaustubh Thirumalai

Emilie McClellan – 2nd Place Behavioral & Social Science and AZ Hydrological Society and AZ Psych Association Sponsored Awards

"Our Warmer World," A conversation and creative collaboration on environmental change in Southeast Tucson

Mentor: Dorsey Kaufmann

Emily Ignatoff – 2nd Place Animal Science and Alex and Winn Lindsay Award and Saguaro National Park Sponsored Award

Avian Relationships to Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) in Perennial vs Intermittent Riparian Ecosystems in Southern Arizona

Mentor: Axhel Muñoz

Kulindu Vithanachchi – 2nd Place Behavioral & Social Science

How the Pandemic Impacted Activities and Mental Health in College Students (The Relation Between Factors of Social Isolation and Depression/Stress)

Mentor: Dr. Eve Isham

Matthew Mayer – 2nd Place Animal Science and SARSEF Board of Directors Sponsored Award

Carnivore Ecology and Bear Population Estimate in the Santa Rita Mountains

Mentor: Dr. Melanie Culver

Megan Bime – 2nd Place Health and Biomedical Science

Effect of Bacterial Derived Metabolites Regarding Its Drive On Energy Homeostasis​

Mentor: Rachel Meyer and Dr. Frank Duca

Mykaela Salvacion – 2nd Place Health and Biomedical and Science and Society for In Vitro Biology, UArizona Cancer Cener and Society for Science & the Public Sponsored Awards

Cabozantinib Interactions with Pancreatic Cancer Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells

Mentor: Dr. Yana Zavros

Rohan Bose – 2nd Place Behavioral & Social Science

Distance Learning's Impact on Academic Performance

Mentor: Dr. Adriana Picoral

Samira Nassi Celaya – 2nd Place Plant Science

Transcriptome comparative analysis between Solanum pennellii unpollinated pistils before and after flowering time

Mentor: Dr. Ravishankar Palanivelu

Sonia Mathur – 2nd Place Health and Biomedical Science

Quantifying Pericardial Effusion Derived From CMR Imaging To Compare the Change in Area From Baseline and After Three Months of Prostacyclin Therapy in Patients with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)

Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Vanderpool

Ana Navarro Ruiz – 3rd Place Plant Science

The role of nitric oxide in mediating gravitropism in natural and synthetic auxin

Mentor: Dr. Nelson Alexander

Esai Quintero – 3rd Place Earth and Environmental Science and SARSEF Board of Directors Sponsored Award

Structural interpretation of Raplee Ridge monocline utilizing remote sensing techniques and point cloud data

Mentor: Lauren Reeher

Trey Allen – 3rd Place Biochemical Science and Bioengineering

Human Stem-cell derived heart tissue monolayer image-based analysis: Manual vs Automatic ROI designation

Mentor: Dr. Jared Churko

Arielle Guerrero – SARSEF Board of Directors Sponsored Award

Neurological Disease protein TDP-43 in a Larvae Drosophila model relating to Frontotemporal dementia

Mentor: Dr. R. Keating Godfrey

Asher Bankhead – SARSEF Board of Directors Sponsored Award

The Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle on Frontotemporal Dementia Disease Severity: Lessons from a Drosophila melanogaster model

Mentor: Dr. R. Keating Godfrey

Nathaniel van der Leeuw – Sponsored Awards from Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society, Mu Alpha Kappa, NASA, Saguaro National Park, The Map Lady LLC, and AZ Hydrological Society

Climate’s effect on Xerophytes and Subtropical Species

Mentor: John Malloy

Sofi Guerra – SARSEF Board of Directors Sponsored Award

Trends and prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes in the human oral microbiome

Mentor: Dr. Stephanie Yaung

Tristin Anaya – SARSEF Board of Directors and Stockholm Water Prize Sponsored Awards

“Diet-biome” of the invasive Northern Crayfish in Arizona: Identifying fish within stomach contents

Mentor: Dr. Melanie Culver

Zackrey Keyes – Society for In Vitro Biology Sponsored Award

Basic fibroblast growth factor’s ability to maintain pluripotency in human induced pluripotent stem cells compared to that of nine similar-structured small molecules

Mentor: Dr. Jared Churko

AZ Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Awards:

Samira Nassi Celaya - 3rd Place -- will present at the National  Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

Comparative analysis of transcriptome changes in Solanum pennellii pistils before and after flowering time

Mentor: Dr. Cedar Warman and Dr. Ravishankar Palanivelu

Megan Bime - 4th Place

Changes in Bile Acid Signaling During Obesity and Prebiotic Treatment

Mentors: Rachel Meyer and Dr. Frank Duca

Isabel Ross - 5th Place

Green Infrastructure Impacts on Carbon Cycling: Evaluating Changes in Soil Microbial Composition and Function

Mentor: Dr. Vanessa Buzzard


STAR Lab students that shined brightly at SARSEF 2020 Science Fair:

 

    

Halianna Piller—Determining the Behavior of Yeast with Different DNA Plasmid Expressions of the Protein Associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (TAR DNA Binding Protein 43) when Subjected to Certain Stressors
SARSEF Grand Award: 3rd Place

Harini Rajendran—The Effect of ncRNA on Cancer Cells with RMS
SARSEF Grand Award: 3rd Place

Isabelle Lopez—TORC Guides Serine Synthesis Through the Phosphorylation of Ser33
SARSEF Grand Award: 2nd Place

Samantha Marsalek and Sophia Ramirez—Gluten Free Bread with Lactobacillus and Alternative Prolamins
SARSEF Grand Award: 2nd Place
Food Safety Award - First Place(Sponsored by the Victor P. Smith Endowed Chair in Food Safety Education
Tom Grogan Award - for Scientific Excellence at the High School Level

Alexander Clinton Nelson—Cloning Over-Expressed ERF27 Gene to Reduce Photooxidative Stress in fc2 Arabidopsis Mutant
SARSEF Grand Award: 2nd Place

Emily Ignatoff—A Comparative Analysis of Centipede (S. subspinipes) and Spider (L. mactans) Venom
SARSEF Grand Award: 2nd Place

Adriana E. Morales—How Low Can It Grow?: Making Mircovirus Alpha3 a Low Temperature Specialist
Best of Cellular & Microbiological Sciences Award

Ariel Cheng—The Effect Nutrient Level Has on the Type of Species of Fungi Gown from Lichen
SARSEF Grand Award: 2nd Place

Ava Filipa Neher, Sylvie Reiners and Elena Sasselli—Effects of Aromatic Hydrocarbons on the Growth of Pseudomonas Putida
SARSEF Grand Award: 2nd Place
Outstanding Achievement for Scientific Excellence in Atmospheric, Oceanic or Hydrologic Sciences

Matthew Fosdick—The Effect of AgBr Nanoparticles on Boron and Phosphorus Doped Graphitic Carbon Nitride Co2 Reduction Efficiency for Artificial Photosynthesis 
SARSEF Grand Award: 1st Place
Air Force Future Leaders of Science and Engineering Award
The APS Scholarship for Problem Solving Award
 
Karah Mayer—RNA Is Key to Alleviating Neurodegeneration in a Drosophila Model of ALS
SARSEF Grand Award: 1st Place
International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Finalist 
UA Scholarship University of Arizona Genetics GIDP Award for Genetic Research 
AND 2nd Prize  from AVASC Foundation from the 2020 Regeneron ISEF

 

  


STAR Lab in the news!

Green Valley News

https://kvoa.com/news/2020/01/21/student-outreach-lab-star-labs-open-at-uarizona/

https://www.kold.com/2020/02/26/program-supports-future-scientists/


If you are a high school student interested in participating, or are a University of Arizona student interested in mentoring, contact Dr. Wilch or Dr. Anderson.

Dr. Nadja Anderson  nadja@email.arizona.edu   (520) 626-4664

Dr. Margaret Wilch   margaret@sarsef.org  (520) 626-4664