Young Scientist Program

Science as a profession needs talented individuals from every source. Founded in 1991, the Young Scientist Program (YSP) is designed to attract high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds to scientific careers through activities emphasizing hands-on research and individualized contact between young people and active scientists. Each year the program reaches hundreds of high school students attending St. Louis City public schools.

The program currently is divided into three components, which work in concert to capture high school students’ interest in science early in their educational careers:

  1. Teaching Teams – Teams consisting of five to 10 graduate and/or medical students design a curriculum unit covering a general topic of scientific interest and then present the unit in one or more sessions to a high school class. Teaching Teams currently has units covering anatomy, chemistry, neurobiology, microbiology and developmental genetics.
  2. Summer Focus – A funded summer research internship program for high school students. Each student works directly with two Washington University students, a mentor and a tutor. The mentor works one-on-one with the student in a laboratory on a specific project, while the tutor prepares the high school student for his/her research experience. Each high school student and his/her tutor meet weekly in the spring and into the summer to review materials related to the summer project.
  3. The St. Louis Science Education Network (SSEN) – The YSP home page ( ) contains extensive listings of scientific and educational sites on the web and descriptions of YSP and our successful Mad Scientist Network. The Mad Scientist Network ( is an “ask-a-scientist” interface that allows people from all over the world to pose questions in 25 areas of science. Volunteers help maintain and expand our web pages and moderate questions on the Mad Scientist Network.

A unique feature of the program is that it is entirely run by student volunteers from the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Danforth Campus. As students and scientists, it is our hope that by sharing our enthusiasm for what we do, we can encourage younger individuals to pursue careers in science.


Director of Summer Focus: