Nearly 90 high school students took part in the 2014 STARS program at UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

After six weeks of conducting research on everything from biofuels to seed viability and even bumblebees, 88 high school students have graduated from the 2014 Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) program from the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The program for academically talented rising junior- and senior-level high school students drew mainly from schools in the St. Louis metro area, but also included teenagers from Pennsylvania, Arizona and Illinois.  This was the program’s 26th summer session.

STARS students were paired with top research mentors from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, Confluence Discovery Technologies and the host institution, UMSL.

“STARS is yet another example of the university doing its part to promote STEM for future scientists from the region and beyond,” UMSL Chancellor Tom George said.

UMSL faculty members who served as mentors for the 2014 STARS Program are:

  • Eike Bauer, associate professor of chemistry
  • Alexei Demchenko, professor of chemistry
  • Aimee Dunlap, assistant professor of biology
  • Bruce Hamper, assistant teaching professor of chemistry
  • Stephen Holmes, associate professor of chemistry
  • Henry Kang, associate professor of mathematics & computer science
  • Robert Marquis, professor of biology and director of Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center
  • James O’Brien, professor of chemistry
  • Keith Stine, professor of chemistry
  • Xuemin (Sam) Wang, professor of biology and member of Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
  • Chung Wong, associate professor of chemistry

Experts from the five institutions accepted student apprentices in laboratories and directed students 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 on and off campus.

The main focus of the intensive six-week summer research program is to ready students to prepare and present a research paper.

The STARS program was held June 9 through July 18. It concluded with a confirmation ceremony July 18 at the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL.

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

The 2014 STARS graduating students and their schools 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 on the STARS program contact Ken Mares at 314-516-6155 or

The UMSL Experience

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez