STAR Lab

Students Taking Advantage of Research (STAR) Lab is a high school outreach collaboration at the University of Arizona between the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Southern Arizona Research Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF). Applications for STAR Lab are open for the 2021-2022 school year.

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

Are you a post doc, graduate student or research scientist interested in outreach? Are you excited about research? Would you like to be part of bringing up the next generation of young scientists and engineers?  Sign up to be STAR Lab Research Mentor here.

Mentors will meet with student mentees for an hour once a week minimally. Some students will come to the campus STAR Lab to do their research, others will work remotely, so the weekly check-ins may be in person or via Zoom. In addition to mentoring the research process, mentors will review student written work: Research proposal, Research paper, poster or slide deck research presentation. Students will be coached and supported in the writing process by STAR Lab Facilitators. The program will run from the end of September through the end of February. 

Sign Up to Be a Lab Facilitator

Are you a UArizona Junior or Senior with research experience? Do you have leadership skills and enjoy working with high school students on research? Sign up to be a STAR Lab Facilitator! STAR Lab Facilitators will receive UArizona credit for Independent Studies. You will meet once a week with an instructor (STAR Lab Virtual Coordinator) and will also host a weekly virtual lab meeting with a small cohort of our STAR Lab students. Share your enthusiasm for science and support our young scientists in science communication! Sign up here!

STAR Lab Student Application Process

Students wishing to participate in the STAR Lab Program, must be 16 years of age by September 20, 2021. We request that you have a nominating teacher who will commit to supporting you in your commitment to the program. If you are interested in participating in the 2021/2022 STAR Lab, please complete the STAR 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. Additionally, we will need a 300 word essay answering the one of the following questions. Please save your essay as a pdf titled Writingprompt_lastnamefirstname.  Email your essay to Margaret@sarsef.org

It is the Year 2050. What science or engineering project are you working on? 

  • Describe the need or problem that motivated you project.
  • Explain how the project was conducted and how it addressed the problem.

What outcome did your project have and how did you know if it was successful? Think about a significant experience that challenged you (academically or personally). In 300 words or fewer, tell us: 

  • What was the challenge?  
  • What did you do to overcome the challenge? 
  • What did you learn about yourself as you faced the challenge? 

Science is all around us, all the time!  Think about the science experience that made you realize you were a scientist at heart. 

  • What was the experience? 
  • How did you respond at the moment?  
  • Why do you think the experience had such a major impact on you?

A slight twist on the super power question: Comic book hero Peter Parker became Spiderman after being bitten by a radioactive spider. 

  • What radioactive animal would you want to get bitten by? Why? 
  • What new abilities would you gain, and what would you use them for?

Applications open on May 15, 2021 and close on September 8, 2021.  All applicants will be contacted on September 12 with updates.

STAR Lab History in the Making

The STAR Lab opened in November 2019 on the first floor of Biosciences West and 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; due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all STAR Lab research partnerships were online for 2020-2021.  The virtual STAR Lab supported 31 students who worked with 25 mentors from across the UA campus and Pima County.  Students presented their research projects at SARSEF, 27 of them won awards and four were selected as ISEF Finalists. Super congrats to these students!

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!

Project Information

This year, STAR Lab projects will be available either in person*, at University of Arizona, or virtually.  In person students will meet with their research mentors 1-2 times per week and will be able to utilize the STAR Lab materials and equipment for their projects. The STAR Lab space is equipped with mostly molecular biology equipment, vertical and horizontal electrophoresis, gel imagining, thermal cyclers, centrifuges, nanodrop biosafety cabinet as well as access communal equipment in the building.

Virtual student projects may involve big data, bioinformatics, biomedical research data, climate, GPS/ArcView, virtual computing, programming, or other questions that can be completed virtually. Students may also choose to work with equipment in their classrooms and meet with their mentors 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 an hour to discuss and review progress.

Additional support for the high school researchers will come from undergraduate STAR Lab Facilitators. STAR Lab Facilitators will coach a small cadre of high school researchers on science communication, both reading and writing about research.  The STAR Lab Facilitators will help troubleshoot challenges and help maintain the community of science and learning.  Both in person and virtual students will meet once a week with their STAR Lab Facilitator group and will complete weekly assignments.

*In person students will need to show proof of COVID vaccination.

 

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