Spend a Summer With a Scientist Hits its Ninth Year

The renowned Spend a Summer with a Scientist (SaS) program at Rice University provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in university activities and work for the summer under the guidance of center researchers. Directed by Richard Tapia, Noah Harding Professor and CRPC Director of Human Resources and Education, the SaS program involves students in research and motivates them to attend or continue graduate school in science, mathematics, or engineering. SaS participants work with researchers from five computational science departments at Rice and from the Keck Center for Computational Biology, a collaboration between Rice, the Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Houston.

Left to right: A cheery greeting from Rice SaS students Donald Williams and Illya Hicks
"My first experience with the SaS program was the summer before the last semester of my undergraduate career," says Regina Shaylean Hill, who is currently working on finite difference schemes for the wave equation in isotropic media at the Computational and Applied Mathematics (CAAM) department at Rice. "That was the summer I decided to go on to graduate school. Besides introducing students to research, the SaS program builds confidence, professionalism, teamwork, and leadership skills. Participants learn from older graduate students, which prepares them to become mentors for new students. We give group presentations and have discussions. All these aspects of the SaS program make it unique and beneficial."

"I had not planned to attend graduate school until I participated in SaS for the first time in 1995," says Carlos Uribe of the Computer Science Department. Uribe's projects have ranged from writing code that renders B-Spline curves to digital signal processing. "Interaction with Dr. Tapia and the other SaS participants not only motivated me to continue with my studies but also helped me value the importance of a good education."

Spend a Summer with a Scientist (SaS) students listen to their peers present on their experiences as minorities and their research. From left to right: (bottom row) Christina Villalobos, Pedro Sepulveda, Ricardo Vargas, (second row) Luis Melara, Stanford Carpenter, Bill Christian, Illya Hicks, (top row) Regina Hill, Diane Jamrog, Carlos Uribe, and Pamela Williams
This year's 18 SaS students took time out from their research projects in July to conduct presentations for K-12 teachers, counselors, and principals attending the GirlTECH/MCSA workshop (see "K-12 Teachers Trained in Creating Internet Resources for the Classroom "). Each student presented a five-minute talk that included a personal introduction, research overview, and personal statement. They presented similar talks to students from the University of Houston-Downtown Houston Pre-Freshman Enrichment Program (PREP) Program, who attended the June 25 "Steering Minority Education for the 21st Century Conference." Throughout the years, SaS students also have been presentors and mentors for secondary school students enrolled in CRPC programs designed to generate inspiration and interest in math and science. Tapia, winner of the 1996 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, has been involved in many such programs at Rice.

"Dr. Tapia's dynamic personality and caring attitude are the key components that make the SaS program a success," says Uribe. "He undoubtedly has no bias toward one ethnic group or gender over another, and to me this is a valuable message. This message should be heard by other leaders across the country who direct such programs."

For more information about the SaS program, see http://www.crpc.rice.edu/CRPC/SaS/ or contact Theresa Chatman at (713) 285-5180 or tlc@rice.edu.

Table of Contents