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UW Apprentice Program Takes High School Students to Lab and Field

July 26, 2018
three young women standing beside a table
From left, Piper Thompson, Angely Nunez and Martina Brown were three of this year’s participants in UW’s Summer Research Apprentice Program for high school students. (UW Photo)

While many high school students are sleeping in or flipping burgers during their summer break, 12 high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates were conducting research for six weeks as part of the University of Wyoming’s annual Summer Research Apprentice Program (SRAP).

Launched in 1985, SRAP is the longest-running education, outreach and diversity program under the purview of the Wyoming Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). SRAP focuses on first-generation and underrepresented students considering college and aims to engage these youth in hands-on, STEM-related activities. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

SRAP enjoys a strong history of college placement among its alumni.

“SRAP is a wonderful program that sparks interest in STEM for our participants,” says Lisa Abeyta, coordinator of student research programs for Wyoming NSF EPSCoR. “Over the six weeks, our participants gain confidence, independence and a hands-on college experience.”

In this year’s program, students studied plants and soil with the Department of Botany and learned coding and programming in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ computer lab, as well as other activities. On July 20, the students presented their own research projects at a culminating symposium.

Some of the participants will start at UW this fall, including Piper Thompson, of Star Valley.

“I feel more confident about what I want to go into,” Thompson says, adding that she also gained many connections at the university.

All but two of the participants are from Wyoming. Rising high school senior Angely Nunez came to the program all the way from Cayey, Puerto Rico.

“I learned something new every day,” she says, “especially about the environment and how important it is.”

Nunez plans to become a medical doctor, specializing in sports medicine.

Nunez and Thompson, together with Martina Brown, from Fort Washakie, completed a research project, titled “Nitrogen and its Effects on Chlorophyll in Brassica.”

“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge in the botany lab and also with programming,” says Brown, who plans to study forensics after her senior year at St. Stephens Indian School. She says living on campus also taught her independence. “I had to learn how to do a lot of things by myself, but I’m glad I had a lot of other people here with me to experience the same thing.”

A complete list of this year’s participants, listed by hometown, are:

-- Basin -- Khloe Kennedy and Adelle Stone.

-- Cheyenne -- Joel Kelsey and Bethany Reitor.

-- Clearmont -- Sarah Reed.

-- Denver, Colo. -- Alejandro Carrillo.

-- Etna -- Piper Thompson.

-- Fort Washakie -- Martina Brown.

-- Lander -- Jacqueline Hutson.

-- Laramie -- Wyatt Glenn and Carmen Leon.

-- Puerto Rico -- Angely Nunez.

To learn more about the SRAP program, visit

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