Nearly 90 high school students took part in the 2013 STARS program at UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

For many of the participants, working in labs with top scientists as part of the Students and Teachers as Research Scientists program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is the most important event in their decision to pursue a career in science.

This summer marked the 25th year of the program. Ken Mares, who has been director of the STARS program for the past 20 years, said it has progressed significantly since its inception.

“We now take a class of 88 students and have 65 mentors from four major research institutions providing precollegiate research opportunities for some of the most promising students in greater St. Louis,” Mares said.

The prestigious six-week summer science program, which ended July 19, pairs academically talented junior and senior high school students with top research mentors from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis and the host institution, UMSL.

Experts from the four institutions took on student apprentices in laboratories and directed them in research projects. Also, students attended lectures by nationally known scientists from the St. Louis science community, learned information concerning the higher education admission process and enjoyed social events such as bowling, a movie, an ice cream social, the St. Louis Symphony and a St. Louis Cardinals game.

This recent summer session included nearly 90 high school students from the St. Louis metro area, as well as Connecticut, Florida, Illinois and Greece.

UMSL Chancellor Tom George praised the program’s longevity and its efforts to increase the number of graduates in the STEM fields.

“For 25 years UMSL has been at the forefront of bolstering precollegiate scientific research in the St. Louis region,” he said. “Degrees in science, technology, math and engineering are needed more today than ever by American businesses wanting to stay competitive. The STARS program is vital in preparing a future STEM workforce.”

Keith Stine, professor of chemistry at UMSL, who marked his 10th summer as a STARS mentor, is a big fan of the program. He said the students are highly motivated and are looking to get the most they can out of the experience. It’s also a boon for the university, which gets to provide students a rare experience.

“It shows local area high school students how much research is going on at UMSL and how they can participate in it,” Stine said.

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

The students for the 2013 STARS program are:

American Heritage School: Harshath Gupta
Anatolia College: Alexandra Koulousi, Maria-Angi Lalioti, Aliki Stogiannou
Centralia High School: Sruti Suresh
Chaminade College Preparatory School: Jack Yungbluth
Clayton High School: Momoko Oyama, Maxwell Sorensen, Shiori Tomatsu
Crossroads College Preparatory School: Benton Birch, Andrew Witherspoon
Eureka High School: Jessica Knobbe, Edgar Loaiza, Chester Montefering
Ft. Zumwalt East High School: Zachary Walters
Ft. Zumwalt South High School: Sathwik Katragadda, Tarun Vittal
Ft. Zumwalt West High School: Vinootna Sompalli
Francis Howell High School: Sachith Gamlath, Derek Koo, Varun Mohan
John Burroughs School: Emily Butka, Amanda Cao, Soomin Cho, Joanne Hsueh, Elizabeth Jackson, Zane Norton, Addison Ogonoski, Victoria Williams, Yueyi Zhao
Ladue Horton Watkins High School: Jacob Jacob, Sarah Jacob, Christine Yan, Yu Ze Zhu
Lafayette High School: Katherine Huang, Jeffrey Lu, Katriella Lumbantobing, Olivia Neumann, Anjana Renganathan, Kelly Storrs
Lindbergh High School: Claire Dang, Joshua Luthy
Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School: Brandon Moseley
Marquette High School: Suhas Bobba, Brian Ji, Susie Wang
Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School: Tilman Bartelsmeyer, Max Bernstein, Paul Dalton, Daniel Kaganov, John Li, Aimun Malik, Thomas Ristevski, Madison Wrobley
Missouri Academy: HaRim Kim
Notre Dame High School: Lucy Freitag
Parkway Central High School: Zhaochen Ji, Minki Kim, Greg Kosinski, Alexander Mesnier, Michael Wang, Haochen Xu
Parkway North High School: Valerie Irwin, Ellen Wang
Parkway South High School: Zhengjie Hu, Sumrah Khan
Parkway West High School: Sarah Breland, Neil Maitra, Benjamin Ratliff, Rigel Robinson
Pattonville High School: Denish Jaswal
Prospect High School: Apurva Belsare
St. Joseph’s Academy: Ashley Taylor
St. Louis Priory: Andrew Cammon, Christopher Chivetta, Matthew Kovac
Timberland High School: Ellen Gruebbeling
Villa Duchesne High School: Katelyn Billings, Anna Coyle, Taylor Harris, Victoria Ip, Kayla Simon
Visitation Academy: Lilac Khojasteh, Jordan Small
Webster Groves High School: Darby Turner
Westminster Christian Academy: Ciarra Peters
Wilton High School: Evaline Xie

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

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez