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UW Summer Program Provides Research Experience for High School Students

September 28, 2016
three people kneeling by the edge of water
From left, Johanna Horn, of Sinclair; Sosie Yorki, of Sugar Land, Texas; and Emili Rosado Rodriguez, of Juncos, Puerto Rico, sample water from the Laramie River as part of UW’s Summer Research Apprentice Program. (Brian Dominguez Photo)

Like many high school students, Wolf Star Duran spent part of her summer working. But, unlike most of her peers, she conducted a research project and learned about college life through a summer program at the University of Wyoming.

Duran was among 22 high school students who participated in the Summer Research Apprentice Program (SRAP) on the UW campus. SRAP, a six-week, paid research program, provides qualified students with hands-on experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

“SRAP is a wonderful program to give high school students hands-on experience in a lab on the UW campus,” says Lisa Abeyta, Student Research Program coordinator. “The program helps students see what life could be like in college, and it stimulates interest in science careers.”

Students who have completed their sophomore year of high school by the start of the summer program, or are juniors or seniors in high school, at the time of application, are eligible for the program. In addition, underrepresented minority groups and first-generation college-bound students are encouraged to apply.

Based on their interest, students are paired with UW professors or graduate students. Research areas may include botany, chemistry, engineering, geology, mathematics, molecular biology, psychology and statistics. Most students work in laboratory settings conducting research, but some work in other locations such as libraries or in the field.

Duran, of Fort Washakie, researched prejudice and well-being with Victoria Estrada, a psychology graduate student. Duran says she enjoyed a positive experience with SRAP.

“Every day, I learned something new, and I just had a blast in the program,” she says. “I can’t express how amazing this program is. It’s like I have another family.”

The Lander Valley High School junior has set her sights on attending UW. Although she is still considering a major, she says she is interested in Native American studies.

SRAP is funded by the Wyoming National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research through the National Science Foundation grant.

For more information about SRAP, visit the website at

Participating students, listed by hometowns, research projects and mentors, were:

Basin -- Macayla Stricker, “Water Infiltration of Soil on Hill Slopes,” Andrew Parsekian.

Cheyenne -- Cameron Miller, “The Effects of Phosphorus Hydroxide, Temperature, and Organic Phosphate on the Transformation of Ferrihydrite,” Mengqiang Zhu.

El Paso, Texas -- Raul Palacios, “The Impact of Habitual Water Intake on the Response to Short-Term Water Restriction,” Evan Johnson.

Fort Washakie -- Wolf Star Duran, “Prejudice and Well-being,” Victoria Estrada.

Gering, Neb. -- Allison Wilson, “Motivational and Social Prospective Memory with the Presence of Material Rewards,” Angel Munoz.

Gillette -- Irene Murphree, “Regional Differences in Violent and Homicide Thoughts,” Joshua Reynolds.

Green River -- Sam Bayles, “Effect of Post Annealing on Optical Properties of Nanostructures,” Jon Pikal; and Andrew Halverson, “Effect of Post Annealing on Optical Properties of Nanostructures,” Jon Pikal.

Houston, Texas -- Nicholas McDaniel, “Birnessite Absorption,” Mengqiang Zhu.

Juncos, Puerto Rico -- Emili Rosado Rodriguez, “Bacterial Cellulose: Determining Fiber Properties and Surmising Application Potentials as They Relate to the Textile Industry” and “Inhibiting GCS Expression Using Micro RNA’s,” Jesse Hinshaw.

Kemmerer -- Jeremy Jones, “Beetle Kill Massacre Reconstruction,” Heather Speckman.

Lander -- Jacob Nichols, “Fire Return Interval Change in the Beartooth Mountain Range,” Robert Rust; Fiachra Rottinghaus, “Factors Contributing to Errors in Prospective Memory,” Angel Munoz; and Nathan Zimiga, “Natural Trap Cave: Animals and Climate,” Robert Rust.

Laramie -- Steven Yeoman, “A Case of the Office Annex Using Performance Measurement Protocols --Basic and Intermediate Levels,” Liping Wang.

Miami, Fla. -- Gabriella Gonzalez, “Pathogen Threat and Attitudes Towards Immigration,” Elizabeth Ferguson; and Anthony Mansur, “Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Assessment Using In-House IEQ Toolkit Built with Arduino and Xbee,” Liping Wang.

Pinedale -- Cristina Aguinaga, “The Effect of Race and Previous Arrest on Perceptions of Police Legitimacy,” Karlee Provenza.

Riverton -- Steven Makin, “Measurement of Soil-Water Content in Alpine Soil,” Elizabeth Traver.

San Francisco, Calif. -- Jacky Chu, “Bacterial Cellulose: Determining Fiber Properties and Surmising Application Potentials as They Relate to the Textile Industry” and “Inhibiting GCS Expression Using Micro RNA’s,” Jesse Hinshaw.

Sinclair -- Johanna Horn, “Picky Eating Bark Beetles,” Heather Speckman.

Sugar Land, Texas -- Sosie Yorki, “Varying Degrees of Urbanization and Its Effects on Water Quality,” Carrie Gulvin.

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