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School’s Out, Science is in for These High School Students

Published on August 12, 2021 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 2 years 9 months ago
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This year’s CHOP-RISES scholars trained in CHOP’s basic research labs and engaged in a unique lineup of virtual learning.

This year’s CHOP-RISES scholars trained in CHOP’s basic research labs and engaged in a unique lineup of virtual learning.

limjr [at] chop.edu (By Jillian Rose Lim)

Summer looks a little different this year for 12 rising high school juniors participating in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Internship for Scholars and Emerging Scientists (CHOP-RISES). With the goal of going from “science curious” to “science confident,” this year’s scholars embarked on a unique curriculum of both virtual and in-person experiences — all in the space of six exciting weeks.

Now in its third year, the CHOP-RISES program continues to provide opportunities in science for students who are typically underrepresented in the STEM-M fields (science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine). As such, the Office of Academic Training and Outreach Programs (ATOP) at CHOP once again teamed up with a number of local high schools to identify students to participate in the CHOP-RISES program.

Due to residual COVID-19 challenges, ATOP shifted its recruitment, onboarding, and program to a hybrid model to ensure the scholars’ summer experience would not be compromised. This model allowed students to train in designated basic research labs from Monday to Wednesday, introducing them to the science, staff and their roles, state of the art equipment, and basic lab skills. Each Thursday, the students engaged in a virtual curriculum that exposed them to more than 14 career possibilities, introduced goal setting strategies, and incorporated resilience coaching (which covers topics such as stress, social support, and coping skills). Students also had an introduction to coding using Scratch and learned to love research math.

Additionally, they participated in “roadmap to college” sessions that identified key tasks to prepare for as they enter their junior year. An extra bonus to their virtual experience, students were paired with postdoctoral mentors of color. This was pivotal in students’ journey to seeing “they too belong.”

"This year presented unique challenges negotiating a new program structure for CHOP-RISES," said Michelle Marshall, ATOP instructional designer. "Our team rose to the occasion with conviction and the tenacity to make this summer a success. Success can be calculated in so many ways, but my measurement starts with the support from our lab hosts, faculty, and the CHOP family's commitment — from postdocs, to research administration, to student alumni — to training our next generation of scientists. This dedication to our student population yielded far more than an experience, it introduced students to the possibilities."

Below, you’ll see that the students discovered more than how to pipette, provide CPR, or conduct a Western blot; they learned the nature of the scientific method itself ( “Many discoveries come from making mistakes,” according to CHOP-RISES scholar Travis Chestine), cultivated connections, and discovered new career paths offered by science. Without further ado, meet our 2021 CHOP-RISES scholars!

Marissa Jenkins

High School: Camden County Technical School
Lab: Seema Bhatnagar, PhD, Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine

“I chose to participate in the CHOP-RISES program because I loved how the program focused on turning students from science-curious to science confident and essentially gave high school students the opportunity to explore further and more in-depth our interests in science far beyond what we learn in our given high-school science courses.

“I feel like this program will help me decide in the future if a pathway in research is something I would want to further explore because of being given the opportunity to shadow and see what is conducted in a real lab, as well as the new connections I’ve made and get to take away with me and confide in — whether that is connecting back with a researcher who I have found is involved in a career I would like to further explore, or a mentor who I could sit down and chat with more professionally. And academically, I will feel more confident walking into different rigorous school science courses, knowing that over these past six weeks I have taken away so much that could be very useful to me in the future.”

Marissa Jenkins

Marissa Jenkins

Ashley Rodriguez

High School: Alexis I Dupont High School
Lab: Kathleen Sullivan, MD, PhD, Allergy and Immunology

“The reason I chose to participate in this program was to gain experience working in a STEM-related field. I loved what the program has to offer once I attended a webinar and got nominated from my mentoring program.

“I feel like this experience will definitely be one step into guiding me into future opportunities and future career opportunities. It has been an enlightening experience working with researchers and scientists who are willing to maintain that mentor relationship beyond this program.”

Naomi Odeyinde

High School: MOT Charter High School
Lab: Seema Bhatnagar, PhD, Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine

“I chose to participate in this program because I wanted to learn about other fields in medicine. I think it’s important to explore other career paths before choosing one.

“In CHOP-RISES, I learned more about parts of the brain and their functions. I also learned how to use different tools and machines in the lab. I know more about undergrad, medical school, and residency.”

Naomi Odeyinde

Naomi Odeyinde

Brielle Seth

High School: Caravel Academy
Lab: Jessica Foster, MD, Oncology

“I chose to participate in this program because I wanted to see the research going on in medicine and to also connect with mentors and peers.

“The program helped me connect with other people such as mentors and doctors. Also, this program helped me realize if research is something that I would be interested in the future.”

Taniya Aviles

High School: Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical Arts
Lab: Beverly Davidson, PhD, Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics

“I learned that the processes used to make viruses and medicine for diseases in the lab is way different than what I had originally thought it was.

“I feel this experience will help me in deciding my future and help me figure out where my interests lie and if they still lie in the field of science, like I had originally thought.”

Taniya Aviles

Taniya Aviles

Vy Trinh-Nguyen

High School: St. John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School
Lab: Kathleen Sullivan, MD, PhD, Allergy and Immunology

“My aspiration is to become a general pediatrician (my other option is becoming both a pediatrician and a researcher), and I hope that this program will give me a deeper experience of what it is like to work in a real laboratory environment and help me prepare for my future career to serve our community. I am very glad and grateful that my school introduced me to this great opportunity.

“The main thing that I learned throughout these weeks in the program is doing a Western blot (a lab technique that separates proteins for observation) using the proper lab equipment. My partner, Ashley, and I did a second Western blot for our research on balancing the levels of the gene ATF3 in lupus patients, and everything looked promising so far. Besides that, I am very grateful to the CPR program for teaching me about how to do CPR on adults and children in any circumstances.”

Vy Trinh-Nguyen

Vy Trinh-Nguyen

Jose Rivera

High School: St. John Neuman & Maria Goretti Catholic High School
Lab: John Maris, MD, Oncology

“I chose to participate in this program because I feel it is an amazing opportunity and great on a resume. It is also helping me choose my career path and help my mind stay on the right track by continually feeding it knowledge.

“I believe it will help me in the future because I can continue to expand my knowledge as I go down the path I choose. I also look at and understand more things in a different way. For example, we know cancer as one thing and it just has different parts; in reality, it isn’t one thing at all. It is something that has multiple parts and more functions than we could know and understand.”

Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera

Dayvontre Ferguson

High School: Overbook High School
Lab: Riccardo Gottardi, PhD, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine

“I chose to participate in the program because I loved science, and Upward Bound Math Science (UBMS) at University of Pennsylvania recommended me to this program.

“I feel really confident about the future due to the fact that it showed me how fragile everything is in a lab.”

Yamalitzy Encarnacion

High School: Penn Treaty School
Lab: Jessica Foster, MD, Oncology

“I chose to participate in this program because I knew it would help me in my future and give me knowledge. I also knew I would enjoy the program given its features and opportunities.

“If I had to pick something [I learned that I didn’t know before] it would probably be the mechanic pipettes; I thought those were really cool. I know this program will help me in my future, especially in the science department and future jobs that I might want to be a part of.”

Yamalitzy Encarnacion

Yamalitzy Encarnacion

Alvin Powell

High School: Hardy Williams High School
Lab: Beverly Davidson, PhD, Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics

“I chose to participate to in this program because I wanted work experience and an intro into the daily life of a scientist and to see what the science world is actually like. One thing I learned is that in science you learn from your mistakes and that science is not a fast-paced thing; it’s a slow-paced process that could take weeks to complete.

“I feel like this experience will help me decide on what my future career will be because I'm thinking about becoming a scientist in the future.”

Travis Chestine

High School: Hardy Williams High School
Lab: Riccardo Gottardi, PhD, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine

“I learned that many discoveries actually come out of making mistakes, and you don't have to necessarily start over but keep pushing through, and you can find something new.

“This definitely can help in the future because this will look great on a resume for future opportunities. Not many people can say they worked at CHOP when they was 16-years-old and working with other scientists. Also, I have new people that I met who are really cool.”

Josiah Miller

High School: St. Georges Technical High School
Lab: John Maris, MD, Oncology

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Are you a CHOP PI interested in getting involved with CHOP-RISES? Contact Michelle Marshall at marshallm [at] chop.edu (marshallm[at]chop[dot]edu).