“The Young Scholars Program is an opportunity for high school students - sophomores, juniors, seniors - to come to a university campus, in this case a University of Georgia campus, and work with faculty and staff on research and outreach projects,” said Gerald Arkin, assistant dean and assistant provost of the UGA-Griffin campus.
He said this exposes the students to a university environment, with the ultimate goal of encouraging them to go to college.
Be-Atrice Sams, administrative manager for the UGA-Griffin campus and overseer of the Young Scholars program, elaborated.
“The students have the opportunity to study with, work with and travel with research scientists here in the United States, Latin America and Africa,” she said.
Different research areas include crop and soil sciences, biological and agricultural engineering, entomology, plant pathology, horticulture and food science. Sams said this year the program has 12 new students and 13 returning students from Spalding County and surrounding counties. During the six weeks, the students are paired with a research scientist and work on a project.
In addition to this, first-year students travel to Athens and participate in a plant science program, while older students can travel internationally.
“This year, I had one group of students - it was five students - that traveled to Costa Rica,” Sams said.
The students visited the rain forest, went hiking, visited botanical gardens, did cultural exploration and spent two nights with a host family. A second group of four students traveled to Honduras and did much the same thing.
She said students give oral and PowerPoint presentations based on their experiences and their research project.
The minimum grade-point average to participate is 3.5. Not only do students have the opportunity to learn and work with scientists but they are also paid - the program is a paid summer internship.
“This Friday is the final day of the program,” Sams said.
Students will travel to Athens for the closing ceremony.
Deena Husein, a rising senior at Lovejoy High School, participated in the program.
“I’ve been studying the bacteria with my mentor, Dr. C.J. Chang,” she said. “It’s bacteria that’s really hard to control.”
She ultimately wants to work in entomology or plant pathology.
Alicia Ming is a rising senior at Griffin High School. She worked with Ian Flitcroft on measuring temperatures inside controlled-environment chambers on the campus.
Although she ultimately concluded she is more interested in going to medical school than doing research, she said the program provided her with a lot of useful information.