34 Years of SAPlings and Still Growing Strong
On the morning of June 22nd, 21 eager high school and college students walked through the Center’s doors to begin their seven-week summer stint as Monell Science Apprentices.
This summer marks the 34th year of the Monell Science Apprenticeship Program (MSAP), a full-time, paid research internship focused on students who are traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. By training a diverse crop of young scientists, MSAP accomplishes many important goals: it enriches the academic environment, enhances national scientific resources, provides new perspectives on scientific research, and empowers youth to consider science as a post-secondary career choice.
This year’s student apprentices come from neighborhoods, schools, and colleges across the tri-state area. Over the next seven weeks, each student will work directly with a Monell scientist on an ongoing research project. They also will attend journal clubs and enrichment seminars on topics ranging from laboratory safety to communicating science to career opportunities.
This year’s SAPlings – as they are called at Monell — join a distinguished group of alumni, including Nelsa Estrella, who recently received her doctorate in cell and molecular biology from Boston University, which she attended on full scholarship. Nelsa plans to join a biotech company in the Boston area.
Nelsa Estrella, 2015 Boston University Doctoral Graduate
2012 alumnus Shadrack Frimpong just graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania. Shadrack was one of five recipients of the University of Pennsylvania’s Presidential Engagement Prize. He will use the $150,000 prize to build a school for girls and health clinic in his home village in Ghana. Afterwards, he plans to return to the U.S. for graduate studies in an MD/PhD program.
Shadrack Frimpong, 2015 University of Pennsylvania Graduate with Honors
Susan Knox, who participated in the program as a high school student in 2011 and 2012, is now a chemistry major at the College of New Jersey. Susan was recently selected to be a New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholar, allowing her to design an experiment based on her research at Monell. She intends to pursue a PhD in chemical biology.
Susan Knox, 2014-2015 New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholar
Nelsa, Shadrack, and Susan all credit MSAP for launching them on their scientific journeys. In a recent letter to mentor Hakan Ozdener MD, PhD, MPH, Shadrack recalled how Ozdener encouraged him to work hard and stay focused, writing, “I will never forget those words because they turned my life around… This seed of faith and belief you sowed in me has been the springboard of where I am today.”
The 2015 Monell Science Apprenticeship Program is made possible by funding from the National Institute for Deafness and other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health, the Charles E. Ellis Trust for Girls, the Subaru of America Foundation, the Charter Foundation, the Christopher Ludwick Foundation, Bedoukian Research, Inc., and numerous individual donors.
While MSAP is led by Monell scientists Paul Breslin and Joel Mainland, the MSAP program is truly an organization-wide effort that would not be possible without a wealth of Monell scientists and staff. From human resources personnel to lab managers to scientist mentors, over 30 individuals work across the entire year to help make MSAP happen during the seven weeks that students are in the Center.
From all of us at Monell, we wish our newest SAPlings a stimulating and fulfilling experience doing hands-on science this summer! To learn more about the program, visit the MSAP pages on our website.