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Natalie Blaise Conducts Research at UW

July 16, 2014 — Like many small-town Wyoming students, Natalie Blaise says she relished the idea of going away for the summer and meeting new people.

Coming from tiny Hartville, with a population of less than 70 people, Blaise is taking part in an intensive research program designed to promote interest in science careers. She will be a junior at Guernsey High School this fall.

The Summer Research Apprentice Program at the University of Wyoming 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 Blaise, also are eligible for the UW program.

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.

Wanting “to look for something different to do this summer,” Blaise looked at what UW offers. She narrowed her choices to two separate programs and chose SRAP for the chance to do scientific research in a laboratory in an academic setting.

“When I’m back home, I know everyone because my hometown is really small,” she says of Hartville in northeastern Platte County. “You get here and get to meet new people. It’s really exciting for me and it’s preparing me socially.”

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.

Blaise’s research in the Department of Chemistry is to detect proteins in bodily fluids.

“I really like this program because it is preparing me for being away from home and having a roommate for my first year of college,” she says.

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.

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

Natalie Blaise from Hartville explains her project in a University of Wyoming laboratory. She is taking part in the six-week Summer Research Apprentice Program that helps promote interest in science careers. (UW Photo)

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