Parkway Central High School student Alex Mesnier (left) spent the summer of 2013 working in the lab of Keith Stine (right), professor of chemistry at UMSL, as part of the STARS program. Jay Bhattarai, a PhD student in chemistry at UMSL, served as a STARS mentor. (Photo by August Jennewein)

This summer’s six-week session of Students and Teachers as Research Scientists at the University of Missouri–St. Louis will be one for the record books.

The prestigious program for academically talented junior and senior high school students has enrolled 89; the largest number of attendees in its more than 25-year history. Participants come from the St. Louis metro area, as well as Pennsylvania, Arizona, Illinois and even Greece.

“After more than 25 years it’s exciting to see the STARS program continue to thrive, especially with this year’s record enrollment,” UMSL Chancellor Tom George said. “STARS is yet another example of the university doing its part to promote STEM for future scientists from the region and beyond.”

The STARS program will run from June 9 to July 18.

STARS pairs 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.

In addition to the four institutions, Confluence Discovery Technologies has been added as a new institutional research partner this year.

“We have another outstanding group of greater St. Louis high school students who are interested in developing skills in scientific research,” Ken Mares, director of the STARS program, said. “They will provide the scientific talent for our academic and corporate science community for future decades.”

Experts from the five institutions will take on student apprentices in laboratories and direct students in research projects. Also, students will attend lectures by nationally known scientists from the St. Louis science community, learn information concerning the higher education admission process, and enjoy social events such as bowling, a movie, an ice cream social, the St. Louis Symphony and a St. Louis Cardinals game.

The main focus of this six-week program is to prepare and present a research paper. Additionally, they’ll attend lectures by nationally known scientists and take part in presentations and social activities.

STARS is sponsored by LMI Aerospace/D3 Technologies, the Office of the Chancellor at UMSL, SLU, WUSTL, St. Louis Symphony, DuPont, Monsanto, Academy of Science of St. Louis, Life Skills, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, University of Missouri–Kansas City, John Burroughs School and Boeing Co.

STARS will conclude with a confirmation ceremony and reception at 3 p.m. July 18 at the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL. The event is free and open to the public.

The students for the 2014 STARS program are:

Affton High School: Adis Terzic
Anatolia College: Kallinikos Chalvatzis, Dimitris Plexidas
Barat Academy:  Nathan Kulczak
BASIS Chandler: Derek Lee
Carbondale Community High School: Teresa Xiao
Christian Brothers College High School: Sangeeth John
Clayton High School: Eesha Kelkar, David Ryffel, Peter Ryffel, Peter Schmidt, Victoria Yi
Cor Jesu Academy: Claire Munsell
Crossroads College Preparatory School: Caleb Hill
Francis Howell High School: AnnElise Hardy
Ft. Zumwalt South High School: Aishwarya Mogulothu
Ft. Zumwalt West High School: Amanda Blythe, Saivaroon Gajagowni
Homeschool (Foxridge Academy): Nathan Jacobs
John Burroughs School: Jason Chen, Joshua Kazdan, Olivia Long, William Meng, Nina Muddasani, Charles Sansone, Tara Suresh, Michelle Tang, William Wolfe, Katherine Yee
Ladue Horton Watkins High School: Susanna Barett, Huayu Gao, Tom Liu, Adeel Qayum, Anthony Ton, Nevel Vaidyan
Lafayette High School: Kristine Huang, Filip Ponjevic, Suraj Puvvada, Mitchell Wells, Amber Wollam, Lillian Wu
Lindbergh High School: Ann Iverson, Igi Vilza, Joshua Wiedner
Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School: Paul Meuser
Marquette High School: Praveen Bagavandoss, Sanjay Elangovan, Poornaashri Malarvannan
Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School: Harrison Critchfield-Jain, Lynn Dankner, Dennis Grigoryan, Davis Johnston, Christina MacAskill, Stephen Mattingly, Kavita Patwardhan, Achintya Rai, Katherine Rill, Rohit Srivastava, Chloe Stallion
Metro Academic and Classical High School: Sanjay Cherupalla
Nerinx Hall High School: Sarah Connolly
O’Fallon Township High School: Shree Patel, Neal Shekar
Parkway Central High School: Gajan Kumar, Amudha Porchezhian, Danielle Serota, Jinghang Zhang
Parkway North High School: Amanda Crawford, Phillip Kheyfets, Eesha Sabherwal
Parkway South High School: William Chen, Andrew Dong, Kevin Zheng
Parkway West High School: Saqib Hassan, Zohair Siddiqui, Clara Sun, William Tong
Priory School: Jack Gorczyca, Matthew Kinnison, William Macke
Salem Community High School: Keshav Kumar
St. Louis University High School: Preston Bruce
Upper St. Claire High School: Carolina d’Andrea
Villa Duchesne High School: Alexis Hartman
Westminster Christian Academy: Rebecca Liu, Stephanie Strothkamp
Whitfield School: Christopher Halen, Michael Rubenstein
Willowbrook High School: Sally Nijim

For more information about the STARS program contact Ken Mares at 314-516-6155 or

The UMSL Experience

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez