Students/Teachers From Disadvantaged High Schools in Science Teacher Research Programs

Jean Spinelli
Aug. 24, 2001


Future medical breakthroughs may be made possible by the research activities of a select group of high school students and science teachers who participated this summer in the Disadvantaged High School Student Research Program and the K-12 Science Teacher Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson.

Twenty-eight financially, socially or educationally disadvantaged high school students and 12 K-12 science teachers were paid to work full-time for eight weeks, through July 27, on current biomedical research projects with distinguished UA College of Medicine researchers in their laboratories and medical clinics.

"The programs also encourage the students, teachers, researchers, professors and practitioners to maintain contact throughout the year," says Dr. Marlys Witte, UA professor of surgery, who directs both programs. Both programs are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA).

In addition to research work, all participants attend seminars in the innovative Summer Institute on Medical Ignorance seminar series, directed by Witte. "This program encourages participants to question established medical knowledge," notes Witte. "They learn that inquiry is what makes research creative and exciting, and that finishing a course of study with more and better unanswered questions is healthy and desirable."

Disadvantaged High School Student Research Program

Each student in the Disadvantaged High School Student Research Program works with a researcher and often with medical students, as well. "Our goal is to give these students a positive research experience that will stimulate inquiry and encourage them to go on to college, where some will continue their research and ultimately enter medical school and other health fields," Witte says. More than 260 students have participated in the program since it first was offered at the UA in 1987.

Students participating in this year's program include:


  • From Morenci: Rachael Day and Kathryne Martin, of Morenci High School.
  • From Rio Rico: Luis Gerardo Ruiz, of Nogales High School.
  • From Sells: Elyce Antone, Benjamin Juan and Maegan Lopez, all of Baboquivari High School.
  • From Sierra Vista: Tara Krawezyk, of Shiloh Christian School.



    From Tucson:
  • Amphitheater High School: Camila Maturana, Matthew Potzler, Sarah Rawdin and Amanda Valles
  • Catalina Foothills High School: Tony Lien
  • Cholla High School: Frances Esparza
  • Desert View High School: Jose Luis Camerena
  • Flowing Wells High School: Philip Lewis, Tiffany Manzo and ShanaSue Shallenbarger
  • Palo Verde Magnet High School: Andrea Groh and Ajpaal Kalyanmasih
  • Sabino High School: Ellie Jean Heintz
  • Salpointe High School: Deanna Andrea Ortiz
  • Sunnyside High School: Danine Fisher and Vincent Phylip Wong
  • Tucson Magnet High School: Mohammed Abdelwahab and Krystle Hall
  • University High School: Melba Jaramillo, Christopher Dale Minamyer and Linnea Ann Williams



K-12 Science Teacher Research Program

The K-12 Science Teacher Research Program provides K-12 science teachers -- who are disadvantaged themselves or who teach a significant number of financially, socially or educationally disadvantaged students -- opportunities to update their knowledge and skills in modern research techniques through hands-on experience with UA researchers and medical students.

"The teachers return to their classrooms with slides, specimens and other materials, and with a sense of the excitement of research, which helps stimulate their students to pursue scientific careers," Witte says. "During the past six years, we also have assisted them in enlivening their own science classes and units with questioning activities."

The teachers' experience enables them to advise their students about a variety of health careers, and their summer research colleagues also visit their classes as guest speakers. More than 90 teachers have participated in the program since it was introduced at the UA in 1991.

Teachers participating in this year's K-12 Science Teacher Research Program include:


  • From Morenci: Stephen Ahmann, of Morenci High School
  • From Picacho: Diane Kopf, of Picacho Elementary School
  • From Sierra Vista: Maura Bostwick, of Sierra Vista Middle School and Debra Hickman of Carmichael Elementary School


    From Tucson:
  • Amphitheater High School: Matthew Haverty and Jon Lansa
  • John B. Wright Elementary School: Emilio Bustamonte
  • Liberty Elementary School: Roy Mendez
  • Pueblo Magnet High School: Wilma Amaro
  • Sewell Elementary School: Pamela Williams
  • Sunnyside High School: Veronica Duarte

  • From Yuma: Michael Winters, of Kofa High School




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