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Seven Priory Students Complete UMSL STARS Program

Priory STARS participants

Seven Priory students — the largest group ever — participated in this year's STARS program, sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis. STARS (Students and Teachers as Research Scientists) pairs academically talented rising high school seniors 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 Priory students in this year's program were Elias Chahoud, Adrian Federko, Sohan Kancherla, Akshay Mehta, Brett Phelan, Edward Quan and Arron Zheng.

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi visited UMSL on Friday for a celebration of gifted young minds as 96 high school students and six undergraduate research associates graduated from the program.

Choi was the featured speaker for the confirmation ceremony on campus. His address pointed to past generational feats – sending a man to the moon, creating the artificial heart, launching the World Wide Web – and challenged the graduates to be as curious, creative, ambitious and civic-minded as their parents and grandparents had been before them.

“Your generation will need to not only match, but dramatically extend the contributions from those who came before you,” said Choi, who cited sustainable energy, climate change and affordable health care as some of the immediate issues facing their generation. “We need your talents, creativity and innovation to help address these and other major problems that confront us. We’re counting on you. Are you ready?”

Thanks to the STARS program, they may be one step closer to pursuing careers of such discovery and importance after six weeks of intensive, collegiate science research.

The mentors are top researchers from Confluence Discovery Technologies, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis and the host institution, UMSL.

Science department chairman Justin Orlando '99 said Priory students who are excited about fundamental and applied science, and who are fascinated by the intentional and methodical process of discovery, are naturally drawn to STARS and have historically done quite well within the program. "I love that STARS thrusts the student into the busy life of graduate level work, requiring them to see all the effort necessary to make a grand discovery or wrestle with an unexpected failure. It takes considerable grit to handle the stress of that environment and I applaud all of our students who rise to that challenge — keep up the good work! Many thanks to UMSL for continuing to both promote and run this opportunity every summer for students all over Missouri.”    

Priory students worked on the following projects with their STARS mentors:

  • Elias Chahoud: “Expression of a plant iron-dependent histone demethylase in E. coli.” Dr. Joseph Jez, Washington University.
  • Adrian Federko: “The effect of geometry on Manuka honey impregnated tissue engineering scaffold efficacy.” Dr. Scott Sell, Saint Louis University.
  • Sohan Kancherla: “Trajectories of multiscale entropy HRV in newborns with hypoxic ischemic injury treated with hypothermia.” Dr. Phyllis Stein, Washington University.
  • Akshay Mehta: “Assessment of functional expression of ABC family of transporters in human pancreatic and leukemia cells using Galmydar.” Dr. Vijay Sharma, Washington University.
  • Brett Phelan: "The effect of oxalate on the adsorption of nickel to Delta-MnO2.” Dr. Jeffrey Catalano, Washington University.
  • Edward Quan: “The importance of PACAP between the retina and SCN and how it affects imitation behavior in mice.” Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen, Washington University.
  • Arron Zheng: “Effects of ionic strength on arsenate adsorption on Goethite.” Dr. Jeffrey Catalano, Washington University.

“UMSL is happy to offer STARS students, who are some of the best and brightest, exceptional, collegiate research opportunities,” UMSL Chancellor Tom George said. “Hopefully the experience inspires them to become top scientists themselves and help make the world a better place.”

STARS is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor at UMSL, SLU, WUSTL, St. Louis Symphony, Monsanto, Missouri Botanical Garden, Academy of Science of St. Louis, Easter Seal Midwest, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Symphony, University of Missouri–Kansas City, John Burroughs School and Boeing Co.

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Prologue, 1

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Prologue, 1

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Prologue, 4

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Prologue, 17

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Prologue, 45

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Prologue, 47

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Chapter 4, 20-21

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Chapter 4, 27-28

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Chapter 4, 41

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Chapter 4, 70-71

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Chapter 4, 72

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Chapter 4, 73

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Chapter 5, 1-2

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Chapter 6, 6

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Chapter 7, 10

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Chapter 19, 6-7

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Chapter 22, 8

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Chapter 30, 1

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Chapter 31, 13-14

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Chapter 63, 17

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Chapter 66, 8

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Chapter 68, 5

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