Saint Mary's Hall provides our students with unforgettable opportunities to interact with experts, inspirational speakers, and impactful teachers. Students learn firsthand about the world outside the Saint Mary's Hall walls. We are proud to announce the addition of the Saint Mary’s Hall Research Science Program, a new initiative for Upper School students who are interested in scientific research. This specialized course will be taught by Upper School Biology Teacher Dr. Jamie Holbrook.
On May 5, the first group of Saint Mary’s Hall Research Science Program Scholars was officially announced at the SMH Lab Coat Ceremony. The ceremony was modeled after the White Coat Ceremony, often intended for first year students in medical, nursing, and physician assistant programs as a rite of passage. After a competitive selection process, our first group of Scholars include Kathleen B. ‘22, Penelope L. ‘22, Lauren S. ‘22, Abbie Z. ‘22, Jonathan L. ‘23, Elliot S. ‘23, and Jonathan T. ‘23.
After introducing the program, Dr. Holbrook and her colleagues, Upper School Chemistry Teachers Justina Vidal, Kenny Hoang, presented the lab coats to the students. Appearing via Zoom, CEO/president of Texas Biomed Dr. Larry Schlesinger was invited to say a few words. Addressing the scholars he said, “Pursuing a scientific career is a wonderful journey in self-discovery and life-long learning. This career takes you in so many exciting directions. Along the journey, make sure you encounter and hold on to mentors who will help guide you and will take the time to find out what you are passionate about. Make the most of the opportunities in front of you. You will not be disappointed.” In addition, Head of School Len Miller made the ceremony’s closing remarks and spoke about the Research Science Program as being an opportunity to flip learning and make it active. He went on to say, “These students are pioneers for us as we continue to define learning and what is ultimately best for their student experience as they discover who they are, what their passions are, and what their interests are. We are very excited to be here to support this program.”
When asked why the school felt there was a need for this type of course, Upper School Biology Teacher Dr. Jamie Holbrook shared, “Research at the university undergrad level has become very competitive and students in high school are having a difficult time getting any exposure to research. Part of the program will focus on efforts to obtain an internship. Students will be mentored through the process of requesting internships from various places around San Antonio. This experience will get them that early exposure and a head start in deciding what kind of research career they might want to go into.”
The Research Science Program will allow students to spend the year studying the human endeavor of scientific research, foundational laboratory skills, the evaluation of results using statistical analysis, and how to plan, implement, perform, and communicate research findings. The three components of the program include classroom work, an independent research project, and an internship in a certified laboratory. The goal of the classroom portion is to practice research laboratory skills involving the use of equipment such as micropipettes, PCR thermocyclers, and gel electrophoresis chambers. Students will also practice the manipulation of materials such as DNA and microorganisms as well as have the opportunity to perform biotechnology involving real human DNA as well as genetically altering the genetic material of microorganisms. The goal of the laboratory internship portion of the program is for students to take the skills they learned in the classroom and apply them to a research setting. After completing this research skills course, the young scientists will present their own research project to a panel of scientists.
Congratulations to these exceptional students chosen for this program! We can’t wait to check back throughout the year to learn more about the progress of our Research Science Program Scholars.