Campus Reaches Out to Budding Scientists

    UCSD doctoral students teamed up with high-school teachers this summer to launch an innovative new program designed to encourage more San Diego County high-school students to pursue careers in the sciences.

    Designed by a UCSD graduate student and a high-school teacher in the Sweetwater Union High School District, the Socrates Fellows Program was financed by a $3-million grant from the National Science Foundation.

    “What’s exciting about this grant is that we hope it will help us address a major national problem, which is that there are not enough science students in the science pipeline,” said Maarten Chrispeels, a UCSD biology professor and co-principal investigator of the grant.

    Working beside graduate students, nine Socrates fellows from UCSD will spend roughly 12 hours per week in high-school classrooms throughout San Diego, Oceanside, Sweetwater and Grossmont school districts during this school year. Students will measure the amount of amylase in their saliva, test ocean core samples and participate in other experiments that incorporate cutting-edge science and practical applications.

    “When you’re in an actual lab you get the feeling that it has real-life applications,” said Nicole Garcia, 17, a student at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista. “You start opening your mind to this idea that maybe I too can do this when I get older.”

    Dean of Graduate Students Kim Barrett said the participating high schools often have a high percentage of underrepresented students, making the program consistent with UCSD’s outreach mission.

    “The university will become not just this faceless enclave in La Jolla,” he said.

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