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Our History

The goal of the Waksman Student Scholars Program (WSSP) is to bring current research and advances in the biological sciences at the university level into high schools.  The general approach we have used is that:

students learn science best by doing science

We have developed methods and curricula which provide opportunities for high school students and their biology teachers to participate in, and contribute to, authentic research projects in molecular biology and bioinformatics. This has been in form of a year-long program that begins each year with a summer Institute at Rutgers University for teachers and one or two of their students. It continues back at each high school during the academic year when more students can become involved, and concludes the following spring with the annual Waksman Forum Poster Session.  Since its inception in July 1993, over 250 high school science teachers and approximately 6,000 high school students have worked on scientific research investigations with instruction from WSSP faculty and staff. 

The Waksman Summer Scholars Program (WSSP) was initiated in 1993 by the late Dr. George Pallrand, a professor in the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, and Dr. William Sofer in the Waksman Institute and Department of Genetics, Rutgers University.  Sue Coletta has served as the administrator for the WSSP since its beginning.  

Dr. Andrew Vershon, a professor in the Waksman Institute and Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry started participating in the program as an instructor in 1998.  He became co-director with Prof. Sofer in 2002 and director in 2006. 

In 2007 the WSSP expanded to Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD.  It is directed by Dr. Forrest Spencer in collaboration with Drs.  Kirby Smith and Cheryl Warren.

In 2012 the WSSP expanded to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, where it was administered by Richard Farnsworth and now Joanna Albala. 

The previous WSSP Lab Coordinators were Drs. Sue Harlocker, Tom Acton, Marty Nemeroff.  The current Lab Coordinator is Dr. Janet Mead (2011-present).