KEYS program involves high-schoolers in science

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The Keep Engaging Youth in Science (KEYS) summer internship program offers motivated high school students training and hands-on experience researching topics in the bioscience, biomedical and environmental health science fields.

KEYS is a partnership among multiple programs at the University of Arizona. It is coordinated by the BIO5 Institute and the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center.

In 2009, 22 exceptional southern Arizonahigh school students had the chance to gain real-life experience with the biosciences and environmental health science. The students hailed from Tucson-area high schools, including Pueblo, Catalina, University, Sunnyside, Salpointe, Empire, St. Gregory’s, Basis, Catalina Foothills and Marana. They were chosen competitively from 58 applicants.

Students’ internship experiences include a weeklong training institute and then five weeks of research under the mentorship of UA investigators and graduate students. The program culminates in presentations to the students’ peers and the public in a poster session. Students also attend weekly seminars to discuss their experiences and practice science communication skills.

Students select research focus areas from genetics/molecular biology, pharmacology/toxicology and computational biology/bioinformatics. In 2009, more than 20 UA researchers, including Arizona Genomics Institute director Rod Wing and SWEHC director Serrine S. Lau, mentored the students in their laboratories.

“This program has given me the opportunity to have hands-on experience by performing real life experiments,” says Kersten Linsangan, who graduated from Sunnyside High School in May 2010. “It has given me the chance to see if this is the career that I want to pursue. I am so grateful for this program. I absolutely love it!”