RGV internship ignites students’ passion for science

HOUSTON — When Cindy Salazar was a sophomore in high school and looking for something to do over the summer, she came across a flyer in her chemistry teacher’s classroom.

On the flyer was an advertisement for the Rio Grande Valley Summer Science Internship, a program for Hispanic, first-generation, college-bound students created by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT-Health) School of Public Health in Brownsville.

Salazar, a Brownsville native and the first in her family to go to college, eagerly applied and was accepted to the first year of the program in 2006.

She spent the next six weeks learning the basics of science and research at UT-Health School of Public Health in Brownsville.

She entered data, helped a faculty member compile research reports and taught young children about hygiene and physical activity. Salazar liked the program so much she came back the next year.

With input from Brownsville’s Community Advisory Board, the coordinators decided the internship program should prioritize Hispanic, first-generation college students and that the opportunities to learn about science should be present at academic health institutions throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

Eleven years later, through the program, 126 students have had the opportunity to work in biology, behavioral science, engineering, ecology, exercise science and public health.

During the internship, each student tests a hypothesis, learns the methods to carry it out and summarizes the results. At the end of the six-week program, they deliver presentations about their research to an audience of more than 100 people.

The audience includes the interns’ peers, mentors, families and friends, as well as members of the Community Advisory Board. The current internship class will present to the group on July 28.

For more information on the Rio Grande Valley Summer Science Internship, visit https://rgvssi.wordpress.com/.

Harlingen high school junior completes research apprenticeship at N.C. A&T

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Tonatiuh Gonzalez, a junior at the Science Academy of South Texas, recently completed four-week research apprenticeships in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

The Research Apprentice Program (RAP) at N.C. A&T is a competitive, merit-based residential pre-college program, designed to introduce high achieving high school students to science professions, and to orient them to college life.

Students in the program spent four weeks working with top researchers in the N.C. A&T agriculture college on projects relative to current issues in agricultural, family, consumer, and environmental sciences. Gonzalez researched gasification of agricultural residues for bioenergy.

He is the son of Luis Gonzalez and Abby Warshowsky of Harlingen.

In addition to the Research Apprenticeship Program, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at A&T administers Cooperative Extension and agricultural research programs, as well as undergraduate and graduate academic programs in agricultural economics and education, animal sciences, biological engineering, family sciences, child development, fashion merchandising and design, food and nutritional sciences, sustainable land management, environmental studies, landscape architecture and urban horticulture.

The college is strongly focused on sustainable agricultural innovations for small-scale rural and urban farmers and growers, through its Local Food and Health Initiative.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is an 1890 land-grant doctoral research university dedicated to learning, discovery and community engagement.

The university provides a wide range of educational opportunities from bachelor’s to doctoral degrees in both traditional and online environments.

With an emphasis on preeminence in STEM and a commitment to excellence in all its educational, research and outreach programs, North Carolina A&T fosters a climate of economic competitiveness that prepares students for the global society.