April 09, 2013
the second straight year, St. John's University has offered
promising students from 23 local high schools an in-depth look at
the opportunities a career in the sciences can afford them—as well
as the considerable resources available to them in its
Department of Biological Sciences.
Science Honors Program for High School Students, created by
Ivana Vancurova, Ph.D., Professor, Biological Sciences,
consists of four monthly lectures delivered by some of St. John’s
leading research faculty. Students also are given tours of the
University’s research laboratories.
After last year’s extremely successful debut, word of mouth
spread among the schools, and 160 students signed up from schools
across New York City and Long Island.
Dr. Vancurova received such positive feedback about the program
that she opened it this year to high school-aged children of St.
John's University employees. “After the response we received,
opening up the program made perfect sense,” she said.
program is free and open to students from all New York-area high
schools. Beginning January 19 and concluding on April 6, this
semester’s lectures explored topics such as introductory
biochemistry, cancer research, cellular biology, immunology and
neuroscience. There are already plans to offer the program again
"We’re delighted that this has become such a service to the
community, as well as an effective tool for recruiting gifted
Ales Vancura, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Biological Sciences.
“It's great for our young participants and for St. John's—a win-win
Dr. Vancurova created the program in response to numerous
requests from high school students and counselors interested in
opportunities for college-level research. "Rather than visit the
individual schools,” she explained, “we thought this would be a
great way to accommodate their requests, while showcasing the many
resources available to them should they decide to attend St.
Participants receive a certificate when they complete the
program. Along with advanced science courses and extracurricular
activities, an interest in college-level research gives high school
students an edge when applying to college, Dr. Vancura said. Based
on students’ testimonials, he believes a number of them will choose
to attend St. John's.
Renee Barcia, teacher and Science Research Coordinator at
Herricks High School, New Hyde Park, NY, applauded Dr. Vancurova's
continuing efforts. "Her vision gives local high school students an
opportunity to enrich their knowledge in the biological and
physical sciences,” she said. “It also showcases the current
research being conducted at St. John’s University."
"This was a wonderful experience," said David Zarowin, a
freshman at Townsend Harris High School, in Flushing, NY. "The
knowledge I gained will definitely be an asset when I apply to
college—and to graduate and medical school."
In addition to Herricks and Townsend, 21 other high schools in
Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Long Island and Manhattan also
participated in the program.