Curator Darryl Chatman urges this year’s STARS graduates to continue their scientific pursuits

Darryl Chatman, STARS

Curator Darryl Chatman addresses the audience at Friday’s Students and Teachers as Research Scientists confirmation ceremony in the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater. (Photo by James O’Brien)

Darryl Chatman, vice chair of the University of Missouri System Board of Curators, came armed with some words of encouragement when he took the stage Friday afternoon in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Chatman was addressing a collection of 82 outstanding high school students and seven undergraduate mentors celebrated for their summer research work in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math in the 2018 Students and Teachers as Research Scientists confirmation ceremony in the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater.

“You must work hard and be persistent to be the best student and scientist that you can be,” Chatman said. “Do not be easily discouraged, and understand that STEM fields are very challenging. You’re going to meet some of the top minds in the country and in the world throughout your careers.

“However, being a scientist, as you know, is very rewarding. Scientists improve the human condition by identifying and solving problems. They create new technology and new gadgets. They build infrastructure, cure diseases, predict and warn us of dangerous weather conditions, create better and safer food – and that’s just to name a few things. Scientists also help us protect the environment and help us develop more sustainable environmental technology.”

Curator Maurice Graham, STARS

Curator Maurice Graham relays a message for 82 talented high school students who participated in this year’s STARS program during his welcoming remarks on Friday. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Chatman serves an Of Counsel at the Spencer Fane law firm, but his background is filled with scientific study.

He attended the University of Missouri–Columbia on a football scholarship and went on to earn bacherlor’s and master’s degrees in animal science from the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources. He later added a master’s degree in agriculture economics from MU and graduated from the University of Missouri School of Law in addition to earning a master’s in public administration from North Carolina State University. Those credentials led him to serve as general counsel for the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

But Chatman shared stories with the students of how his interest in science first began – with encouragement from his father, who bought him his first telescope and later a Commodore 64 computer with which he grew up tinkering.

He wished for the students to continue their own scientific pursuits.

“I’m looking forward to hearing all about your success in the future and reading about some of your great discoveries and some of the fantastic things that you guys develop in the future,” Chatman said.

STARS is a six-week summer program that pairs talented rising senior high school students and new undergraduate students with more than 60 local scientists in the fields of biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, medicine, physics and psychology.

The mentors are top researchers from partner institutions Confluence Discovery Technologies, the Donald Danforth Plant Science CenterSaint Louis UniversityWashington University in St. Louis and the host institution, UMSL.

This year’s STARS students hailed from high schools throughout the St. Louis region as well as from Idaho, Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin, as well as Anatolia College’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Program in Greece.

At Friday’s ceremony, UMSL Chancellor Tom George extended each STARS graduate an offer of a scholarship covering tuition up to $750 for books per semester, as well as research opportunities, should they gain admission and choose to enroll at UMSL in the fall of 2019.

The graduates of the 2018 STARS program are:

Affton High School: Jesse Au
Anatolia College: Ioannis Stamoulis
Brookfield Academy: Sohil Singh
Carbondale Community High School: Ian Kinsel
Chaminade College Preparatory School: Matthew Billings
Clayton High School: Arko Chatterjee, Justin Guilak, David Higuchi, Darryl Sams, Hikari Umemori
Crossroads College Preparatory School: Margaret Hughes
De Smet Jesuit High School: Elijah Montgomery
Fort Zumwalt East High School: Mahima Shahrawat
Fort Zumwalt West High School: Satyanarayanan Sivasankar
Francis Howell Central High School: Rishith Mishra
Francis Howell North High School: Shikha Annem, David Yang
John Burroughs School: Nandini Jain, Jan Kasal, Lily Sheets, Divya Srihari, Matthew Yee, Lexi Young, Jason Zhou
Ladue Horton Watkins High School: Rose Coughlin, Anik Jain, Malavika Kumaran, Rajdeep Paul
Lafayette High School: Mohammed Arif, Christopher Bakker, Alec Brooks, Michael Lu, Ethan Lumbantobing, Ayush Ray, Shree Samavedhi, Elvis Wei
Liberty High School: Emily Ristevski
Lindbergh High School: Zaid Khaja, Evan Moss
Marquette High School: Ganasri Aleti, Neha Bollam, Smridh Chandra, Kartik Deshpande, Varun Devraj, Shreya Gautam, Yijin Huang
Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School: Fatima Ali, Jeffrey Desloge, Haniya Habib, Daniel Hochberg, Srujay Pandiri, Rida Qazi, Anna Yuska
Miss Hall’s School: Zifeng “Christy” Liang
Nerinx Hall High School: Kate Sheeley
Parkway Central High School: Haoyuan Chen, Divya Minnaganti, Yerin Moon
Parkway North High School: Meher Arora, Rubina Thomas
Parkway South High School: Neha Potta, Vedha Srigiri
Parkway West High School: Matthew Boyd, Nina Maitra, Shahzan Mian
Pleasant Valley High School: Sujay Marisetty
Rochester Adams High School: Varun Kathawate
Rockwood Summit High School: Sathvika Janga, Daniel Steinmeyer
St. Charles West High School: Nicholas Schmitz
Saint Louis Priory School: Patrick Carr, Adam Urish
St. Louis University High School: John Bodnar, Collin Funck, John Ruyle, Thomas Wu
University City High School: Saida Donaldson
Visitation Academy: Ellie Khojasteh
Westminster Christian Academy: Lauren Bell, Feng wei Liu
Westwood High School: Avinav Saini
Woodbury High School: Nidhi Checka

The research associates for the 2018 STARS program are:

Case Western Reserve University: Preston Willis
Claflin University: Preston Bruce
Rice University: Alexander Curylo
Saint Louis University: Nina Kaiser
University of Missouri–Columbia: Della Renee Cox, John Tschampel
University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill: Sudheesha Paladugu

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


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