More than 80 of the brightest students from 33 high schools in the St. Louis metro area, as well as California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa and Greece were selected to take part in the 2012 STARS program. (Photo by August Jennewein)

A summer of hard work has paid off for more than 80 aspiring scientists who spent six weeks conducting intensive research with St. Louis-area professionals and professors as part of the 2102 Students and Teachers as Research Scientists Program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Students were paired with top research mentors from UMSL, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis and the Solae company. The experts from the five institutions took on student apprentices in laboratories and directed students in research projects.

“High school students interested in a science career get a big head start with their participation in the STARS program,” said UMSL Chancellor Tom George. “For six weeks, students interact with experts in their fields, work in labs and take away with them an invaluable real-life, hands-on experience.”

The program ended July 20, wrapping up another successful pre-collegiate summer experience for dozens of rising high school juniors and seniors. More than 80 of the brightest students from 33 high schools in the St. Louis metro area, as well as California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa and Greece were selected to take part in the program.

“Many inquired about opportunities to continue their research interest next summer,” said Ken Mares, director of STARS.

Besides conducting research, students attended lectures by nationally recognized scientists, were informed about the process for applying to higher education institutions, and enjoyed social activities such as bowling, a movie, an ice cream social and a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.

A big fan of the program is Elaine Krul, a lead researcher at Solae who serves as an adviser to STARS students. She was really impressed by this year’s participants. She said they possessed amazing enthusiasm and talent. Krul praised the uniqueness of the program for allowing students to expand their education far beyond the classroom into the real world.

“Our country needs to cultivate these great minds and the STARS program allows the students to experience things they did not know about at the start of the summer and come away with a sense of accomplishing something that, in the long run, will benefit humanity,” she said.

This year, Parkway School District had a huge presence in the STARS program with 21 students from all four of its high schools taking part. That’s the most Parkway participants ever in one session and a fact heralded by the school administration.

“We’re excited to have had a record number of students participating in the STARS program this year,” said Desi Kirchhofer, district deputy superintendent. “It is a very popular program for Parkway students, primarily due to the high quality faculty as well as the rigor and relevance of the research projects.”

The program is funded partially through LMI Aerospace/D3 Technologies, Solae, the Office of the Chancellor at UMSL, Saint Louis University, Washington University and the Green Foundation.

The students for the 2012 STARS program are:

Affton High School: Jimmy Quang Lam
Anatolia College IB: Dimitris Tsaras, Sotiris Gkoulimaris
Block Yeshiva High School: Jonathan Noam Biel
Carbondale Community High School: Bilal Ahmed Makhdoom
Chaminade College Preparatory School: Alan Thomas Makhoul
Christian Brothers College High School: Donald Jerome Buchholz, Alexander David Ernst
Clayton High School: David Behrend, Junsang Cho, Sakurako Oyama
Clinton High School: Vamsi P. Marla
Crossroads College Preparatory School: Noah Forrest Dromgoole
DeSmet Jesuit High School: Joshua Matthew Simon
Ft. Zumwalt South High School: Sree Harsha Datla
Gateway Institute of Technology: Aadaisia Paris Stevens
Hinsdale Central High School: Sagar Dommaraju
John Burroughs School:  Corina Marie Minden-Birkenmaier, Bradley Ilsoo Riew, Tejasvi Subramanian, Katherine Irene Taylor, Taiyi Hua
Ladue Horton Watkins High School: Enze Chen, Chloe Lee An, Rui Chen, Toby Zhu
Lafayette High School: Felipe Badke d’Andrea, Vivek Ram Vallurupalli, Jerik K. Leung and Alan Lu
Lindbergh High School: Shravan Rama Dommaraju, Tiffany Lee, Stephanie Yun Fei
Marquette High School: Jacob Dean Cohen
Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School: Isa Maria Mulvihill, Christina Adams Rouse, Preethi Umashanker, Luman Zhang, Alexandra Elizabeth Donovan, Kristin Taylor Geczi, John Barratt Finlay
Mission San Jose High School: Priyanka Mahapatra
Missouri Academy: Natalie M. Yocum, Esther Kim and Jangkyung Kim
North Broward Preparatory School: Miranda Adele Vogt
O’Fallon Township High School: Yash Atul Patel
Parkway Central High School: Louis S. Wang, Rebecca Moyi Zhang, Jonathan Herbert Brand, Henry Du Chen, Victor Ge, Tommy Huan Du
Parkway North High School: Yu Deng
Parkway South High School: Shreya Sharma, Mindy Xu, Nagasai Sindhura Yalavarthi, Satya Pavan Yalla, Alice Ling Zou, Humza Ahmed, Michael Thomas Esker, Katherine Yufan Li, Jenna Louise Lin and Joyce Chen Lin, Brian Cheng , Kevin Jed He
Parkway West High School: Ann Ni, Tatsumi Yanaba
Ritenour High School: Maloree Khan
Rosati-Kain High School: Gabrielle Nicole Melillo
Saint Louis Priory: John Leon del Rosario, Alexander Craig Noddings, Tony Y. Lee
St. Louis University High School: Colin P.  Dunne
Villa Duchesne High School: Sophie Boyer Flotron, Morgan Elizabeth Link, Meghan Mary Grojean, Kristen L. Buehne
Visitation Academy: Komal Kumar and Elizabeth Ramsay Lueder
Westminster Christian Academy: Nathan Josh Cherian, Daniel Louis Pollmann

For more information contact Ken Mares at 314-516-6155 or

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez