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HEM Student Part of UW Summer Research Program

July 16, 2014
Student working on computer
Savana Umberger of Hanna works on her project in a clinical laboratory in the University of Wyoming Department of Psychology. She is taking part in the six-week Summer Research Apprentice Program that helps promote interest in science careers. (UW Photo)

Savanna Umberger has learned that mother knows best.

One day earlier this spring, Umberger’s mom, Robin, brought home some University of Wyoming literature about a summer program that is geared toward high school students. She encouraged her daughter to apply.

And Umberger is glad she listened to her mother.

She is taking part in an intensive research program designed to promote interest in science careers. Umberger will be a senior at Hanna-Elk Mountain High School this fall.

The Summer Research Apprentice Program at UW is a six-week, paid summer research program for students who have completed their sophomore year of high school. Current high school juniors and seniors, such as Umberger, also are eligible for the UW program.

“When I read about it, it sounded so amazing, and it is,” she adds. “We get the full college experience and not just messing around on campus. We actually get to learn, work on individual research projects and we get to bring back knowledge.”

SRAP began in 1985 to provide minorities, first-generation college (neither parent completed college), and female students the opportunity to gain a meaningful firsthand experience in science, mathematics, engineering or other related science research.

SRAP stimulates interest in science careers and is a valuable opportunity to gain firsthand experience in research at UW, says Lisa Abeyta, SRAP project coordinator. Other benefits include exposure to workplace expectations, educational and cultural opportunities on a college campus, and team-building and problem-solving activities for participants.

“I want high school students to know that, even though they may be the first in their family to go to college, it is not impossible. College is an attainable goal,” she says.

Program participants are chosen primarily from the Rocky Mountain region, but others from across the United States also have applied for the annual summer program at UW. This summer, 22 students from nine states are working on research projects.

Based on their interest, participants are paired with a UW professor or post-doctoral researchers, and spend their days in the laboratory performing various research experiments. Among available research areas of interest offered to students are chemistry, energy research, ecology, botany, molecular biology, mathematics, statistics, engineering, nursing and psychology.

Umberger says the program has definitely strengthened her interest in higher education and plans to major in counseling. That is why she is glad to work in the UW Department of Psychology, where she is working on her project, “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Substance Use Among Domestic Abuse Victims.” Umberger’s UW mentors on the project are clinical graduate students who have helped guide her through the process.

“This program gives me the knowledge about psychology. And it definitely helps me plan out how I am going to pursue college, to know what to expect and what classes I will need to take,” she adds.

SRAP students will present their research work in front of class members, family and invited guests during the program’s final day, Friday, July 18.

“SRAP has helped me know how to better approach my senior year at HEM, and to be better prepared in my education after graduation,” Umberger says.

The program is funded by the Wyoming National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR) through the National Science Foundation grant.

To learn more about the program, contact Abeyta at (307) 766-6059 or email

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