By Jillian Rose Lim
School might be out for the summer, but science is still in for eight high school students participating in a unique six-week program called the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Internship for Scholars and Emerging Scientists (CHOP-RISES). Offered by the Office of Academic Training and Outreach Programs, CHOP-RISES gives students typically underrepresented in science the opportunity to work in some of our most innovative research laboratories and explore a variety of careers in science and medicine.
From learning hands-on lab skills, to working with experienced mentors, to visiting various CHOP departments, it’s a busy summer but one that will no doubt “open doors, windows, and gateways to a lot of opportunities,” said Maninder Kaur, supervisor for the lab of Ian Krantz, MD. “A lot of the students will be taking biology in their junior and senior years, and now they will have hands-on experience and a head start — it’s not going to be just a figure they see in their textbooks.”
In the lab, the students learn a host of beneficial techniques such as how to pipette and work with complex lab equipment, explained Debbie McEldrew, supervisor for the lab of Nancy Spinner, PhD. And Almedia McCoy, supervisor for the lab of Eric Marsh, MD, PhD, adds that the program exposes students to key parts of lab culture such as learning how to present papers and data, and how to schedule and plan experiments.
“Hopefully, they’re learning a little bit about perseverance, too,” McCoy said, “because that’s very important in science.”
But arguably one of the program’s most unique features is that it provides students with an experience that they may not have had access to otherwise. This year, CHOP partnered with Paul Robeson High School for Human Services (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical Arts High School (Camden, New Jersey) and the nonprofit organization, TeenSHARP (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) to identify students for participation in CHOP-RISES.
“I think it’s a really good program for students who go to schools that don’t give opportunities like this,” said Saniah Aaron, a 16-year-old student at Paul Robeson High School for Human Services and a CHOP- RISES scholar. “My principal does his best to really get me out there because he knows this is what I want to do. I feel like if you have someone in your corner, even if you don’t come from the best background, and you have programs like this, you can really go far.”
Packed with journal clubs, field trips, and presentations, CHOP-RISES gets the students actively thinking about their future.
“I think one of the greatest parts of this program is that it exposes young students to all the different opportunities there are in science, which is something I didn’t know when I was a student,” said Sandra Luz, supervisor in the lab of Seema Bhatnagar, PhD. “I didn’t know there were so many job opportunities, not just your typical doctor path or researcher, but there’s so much in between.”
Click through the photo gallery below to meet our 2019 CHOP-RISES scholars, and learn what they love most about the program!