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Research program draws gifted high school students (Released: 7/15/98)

by Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu, Office of University Communications.

Storrs , Conn. -- Fifty-six talented high school students from Connecticut and five other states are attending this year's Mentor Connection, a three-week summer research program at the University of Connecticut.

And thanks to an $89,000 grant from the State Department of Education, 32 Connecticut students have received $1,800 scholarships to enable them to participate in the program at no charge.

The program, which is open to students who will be juniors or seniors in the fall, was established in 1996 to offer the opportunity for gifted high school students to take part in creative projects and research investigations with faculty, staff, and graduate students as mentors.

Mentor sites include excavating at a Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reservation, exploring the effects of nutrients on genes, and studying the New England nature writing of Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau, as well as advertising, puppet arts, communications and the Internet, international relations and biotechnology.

Mentor Connection is affiliated with the Neag Center for Talent Development, headed by Joseph Renzulli, a professor of educational psychology, and is based on Renzulli's research about how gifted students learn. Although there are other programs where students can take college courses, according to Renzulli the apprentice-mentorship model on which Mentor Connection is based is unique.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to get students involved with a person that's on the front-edge of research. For a kid, that's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," says Renzulli.

"Students will enter the real world of research," says Jeanne Purcell, the director of the program. "With their mentors, they will become a community of scholars of all ages, working together on important problems that are at the forefront of various fields of study in the arts and sciences."

The program was established with a $300,000 gift from William Berkley, a UConn trustee, and the W.R. Berkley Foundation.

The program runs from July 6-24.

The following list includes the mentor site for each participant:

Ashland, MA
Elizabeth Ingalls
Puppet Arts
Bellerose, NY
Ann Punnoose
Neurological Research
Bethlehem, CT
Amy Parkosewich
Bow, NH
Claire Douglas
Nature Writing
Courtney Scala
Nutrients and Genes
Bridgeport, CT
Rukiya Ferris
Broadcast Media
Robert Peterson
Nature Writing
Nar Taing
Bristol, CT
Christine Wegner
Archaeological Dig
Broad Brook, CT
Kate Barber
Women's Studies
Ryan Nilsson
Broadcast Media
Brunswick, ME
Robin Areson
Canton, CT
Shyla Burditt
Lynda Park
English Language Institute
Christopher Spock
Cathy Campbell
Archaeological Dig
Clinton, CT
Nga Bui
Colchester, CT
Melanie Hayn
Columbia, CT
Adam Labadorf
Chemical Engineering
Alana Seifts
English Language Institute
Danbury, CT
Russel Salazar
Mathematical Models
E. Hartford, CT
Michael Tammaro
Mechanical Engineering
David Taylor
Mechanical Engineering
East Windsor, CT
Somaira Altaf
Women Studies
Falls Village, CT
Matthew Bagwell
Wildlife Conservation
Farmington, CT
Thomas Jor-el Hardy
Glastonbury, CT
Roshni Aggarwal
Neurological Research
Lambetville, MI
Justin Kirkwood
Lebanon, CT
Sharon Manning
Nutrients and Genes
Middletown, CT
Victoria Horn
Womens Studies
Kendra McDonald
Broadcast Media
Sandy Rivera
New Canaan, CT
Lindsay Spring
New London, CT
Jonathan Axtell
Mathematical Models
Laura Burfoot
Nature Writing
Neil Connolly
Broadcast Media
Norwalk, CT
Thomas Shortliffe
Puppet Arts
Oakdale, CT
Ruth Ann Eng
Nature Writing
Plainfield, CT
Amy Barber
Materials Science
S. Kent, CT
Katrina Cason
Broadcast Media
S. Windsor, CT
Christina Bloking
Moh Sharma
Molecular and Cell Biology
Scotia, NY
Meg Oehler
Broadcast Media
Somers, CT
Jason Cudnik
Tracy Pell
Stamford, CT
Elvita Dominique
Anna Liamzon
David Pierre-Louis
Broadcast Media
Storrs, CT
Luqman Abdullah
Broadcast Media
Stratford, CT
Mandy Buckley
Broadcast Media
Dana Chitwood
Archaeological Dig
Laura Costello
Archaeological Dig
Rebecca Szantyr
Benton Museum of Art
Windsor, CT
Jeffrey Wilhelm
Wolcott, CT
Mark Girgenti
Mechanical Engineering