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 the Southern Arizona Research Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF). Student applications for STAR Lab are open for the 2023-2024 school year. Applications are open to any high school student in Arizona who will be 16 years of age by September 25, 2023. 

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

Sign Up to Be a Research Mentor

Are you a postdoc, graduate student or research scientist interested in outreach? Are you excited about sharing your research with the next generation of young scientists and engineers?  Sign up to be a STAR Lab Research Mentor.

Mentors will meet with student mentees for at least an hour once a week. Some students will come to the UArizona 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 to the beginning of March. 

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 Study (399 or 499). Facilitators will meet once a week with Dr. Daryn Stover, BIOTECH Project Director/Co-Director of STAR Lab to review pedagogy and lessons. Facilitators will host a weekly virtual meeting with a small cohort of our STAR Lab students. Please 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 25, 2023. 

Students need a nominating teacher who will support them in their commitment to the program. If you are interested in participating in the 2023/2024 STAR Lab, please complete the STAR Lab application. When you fill out the application, you will need the name and contact information of two references, your nominating teacher and another teacher or professional with whom you have worked. Applicants will need an unofficial transcript and a 300-word essay addressing one of the prompts listed below.

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

  • Describe the need or problem that motivated your 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). 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 superpower 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 are open and will close at midnight on September 4, 2023.  All applicants will be contacted by September 19th with updates. The program will begin on September 25th.


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 excited to grow and expand our program each year thereafter, expanding opportunities to students across the state by incorporating remote mentoring during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To view past STAR Lab Projects, go to Under Arizona Virtual Science Fairs, select STAR Lab (2022-2023) from the “Choose a school…” drop-down menu and use the password STARLab to view 

past projects completed through our program. 


Project Information

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.

STAR Lab projects will be available either in person*, at the University of Arizona, or remotely. In-person students will meet with their research mentors in the STAR Lab and will have access to materials and equipment for their projects. The STAR Lab space is equipped with molecular biology equipment for vertical and horizontal electrophoresis, gel imaging, PCR, centrifugation, spectrophotometry, and microscopy, as well as a biosafety cabinet. Students also have access to communal equipment in the building. 

Remote students may work on projects that 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.

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.

* We request that in-person students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 25, 2023.




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



Hear students talk about their STAR Lab projects!


STAR Lab students shine brightly at the 2022 SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair!

In 2023, STAR Lab students presented 38 projects at SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair or the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair.  Five STAR Lab projects were selected to present at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Dallas, Texas in May 2023! Congratulations to our STAR Lab ISEF Finalists!

Hannah Feinberg: Molecular Modeling Guided Drug Design of Glycopeptide Drugs

Jimena Uribe Lin: Novel Approach on Mitigating Ocean Acidification by Enhancing the Photosynthesis Rate of Macroalgae Ulva Lactuca- Phase II

Keona Kuo: Filamentation of Drosophila melanogaster Phosphofructokinase-1 

Andrea Romero: Novel Applications of Native Sonoran Desert Plants (NSDP)- Year 3 Study         

Maritza Roberts-Padilla: Batch adsorption study of methylene blue using fresh prickly pear cactus cladodes as a model material for textile wastewater remediation


STAR Lab in the news!

Green Valley News

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

Dr. Daryn Stover  (520) 626-4664