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Students Explore Science Options During Summer Program

July 13, 2007

Students Explore Science Options During Summer Program

Nine students from community colleges all over the state are living at UC Merced for five weeks this summer as they work with four faculty members on such projects as stem-cell and infectious-disease research.

I’m going for my bioscience major, but I’m not sure what aspect I want to focus on, said Carlos Perez, 20, a Marysville resident and student at Yuba College. He is learning how to grow bacteria and conducting experiments on the bacteria to see what inhibits and enhances their growth.

It’s a lot of work mixing the solutions, but it’s pretty cool, Perez said. I’m really enjoying it.

Perez and his fellow Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) students applied through their community college campuses for summer enrichment programs on four-year campuses throughout the state. They work directly with faculty here, including Natural Sciences professors
Rudy Ortiz,
Marcos Garcia-Ojeda,
David Ojciusand
Dean Maria Pallavicini.

The MESA program is funded by grant money from the National Science Foundation and is designed to help students who excel in math, engineering and science pursue their goals.

Patricia Soto, 20, from Napa Valley College, knows she wants to be a microbiologist or a clinical lab researcher. She’s working on stem-cell research this summer.

We’re making the media to grow the stem cells, Soto said. We actually work with the cells, transferring them from media to media, keeping them alive and in the phases we need them to be in.

At the end of the five-week session, on July 28, the students will participate in a poster forum in which they will answer questions about their work. Some will be asked to give oral presentations.

We have to be very prepared, Soto said.

In the meantime, the students are sharing residence rooms here on campus and getting a close look at UC Merced and the community.

We’re getting to know the campus, Soto said. Before, I hadn’t thought of coming here, but now, it’s an option.