Pacific Step-Up program names summer interns

MHS, KHS students to conduct science research projects 

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases’ High School Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons program, commonly referred to as Pacific STEP-UP, has selected six high school student interns for their program at the Northern Marianas College this summer.

The accepted students are Marianas High School’s Noemi Caacbay, Maria Dizon, Roselyn Tanghal, You Na Lee, and Eloise Lopez. Kagman High School junior Sarah Kapileo was also selected among the pool of competitive applicants.

The program, funded by the NIDDK, is a rigorous eight-week paid summer research experience that immerses public high school juniors and seniors in hands-on science and practical laboratory experience. Students will receive $1,000 for their participation in the program after the completion of their research projects.

Dizon, a senior, and this year’s CNMI-wide S.T.E.M fair champion, told Saipan Tribune that she is “honored to be a part of a program that reaches out to high school students who want to expand their knowledge of science beyond the classroom and the textbooks.”

The MHS student successfully completed the same program last year as a junior. During that time, she studied Pacific box jellyfish along with University of Hawaii at Manoa professors. Dizon’s work was eventually published in the Ethnicity and Disease Journal, which is the official journal of the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks.

As for what she plans to study this year, Dizon said that she will select a project that is relevant to the islands.

Fellow MHS senior Caacbay will also be going on her second year in the program.

As a junior, she conducted research on the invasive species known as the Philippines Fruit Fly and Mango Fruit Fly, with the intention to assist local farmers and Saipan’s agricultural industry.

“I was so excited when I received the acceptance this year, and so glad to be part of he program once again,” she added. “Since my participation last summer, my experience in the Step-Up program ultimately solidified my career and educational goals.”

Her research project for this summer, she said, will concentrate on the utilization of DNA sequences.

The Public School System’s local Step-Up coordinator, Annette Pladevega, and NMC’s Dr. Alfredo de Torres will supervise the students’ summer projects.

According to Pladevega, PSS partners with the program in the selection and training of participants, who will be presenting their research at the local symposium or the National Institutes of Health symposium to be held in Bethesda, Maryland in August.

Thomas Manglona II | Correspondent

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