University Level Research, Mentorship students present at symposium

Kris Long

A year’s worth of hard work and dedication was finally concluded last Tuesday, when University Level Research and Mentorship students presented their research findings to the Manhattan community.

Seniors Lauren Cassou, Chris Carter, Greg Chikan, Cameron Comstock, Carson Gido, Zane Kohl and Tejaswi Shrestha have been working with their research mentors to conduct professional university level research in their areas of interest since last summer. The students worked with Kansas State University professors to design and execute experiments in the Physical, Biological and Social Science fields.

This is the first year Manhattan High has offered this class, which was pioneered and set up by sponsor Janet Stark. Though only seven students were given the opportunity this school year, 16 current juniors have been accepted into the growing program for next year. The students who were selected need to meet the prerequisite of having already taken or being enrolled in AP Statistics for next year, as well as having a reputation as a responsible and dependable.

“We are looking for students … who have a research area of interest that is beyond the scope of Manhattan High School,” Stark said. “Students who are highly responsible, dependable, punctual … [and students who are] ready for life at a university right now as a high school student.”

The studies the students designed in collaboration with their mentors included studying addictive tendencies in rats, diseases in plants, searching for new ways to treat cancer and attempting to decipher an ancient text. Their work built on previous research by university professionals and added to knowledge in their field.

While students received training in specific research areas, they also learned many other skills.

“They’ve learned … collaboration, ethics and how to cultivate those adult and those professional skills so when they’re in any kind of setting they can rise to the challenge of interacting with other professionals that are much older than they are,” Stark said. “We also practice speaking and writing every single week.”

Through the unique partnership with K-State, students were provided the resources to conduct studies as well as a one-on-one mentor to teach them about the subject.

“I think [having a mentor is] totally necessary,” Gido said. “Simply the physical tools we need to do this research … a lab to conduct [the experiment] in … the resources, or the connections [my mentor] had to get this data. He’s also acted [as] a teacher… teaching me about the subject and the fundamentals that drive this question we have. He’s provided advice and instruction.”

All of the students who participated in the class this year intend to continue their research in the future, and some in college next year. Many hope to turn it into a career researching for universities.  

Two students, Kohl and Carter, have been offered positions by their mentors to continue research at K-State their freshman year of college.


“I’m going to research as much as possible as fast as possible,” Kohl said, “because that’s all I really want to do with the rest of my life.”