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SciHigh Summer 2019 Recap

This summer, SciHigh offered five highly motivated students from Holy Trinity High School the opportunity to explore their interests in science and medicine and get a hands-on introduction to medical research.


The students’ kicked off their SciHigh Summer on June 17th with 2-day orientation introducing them to NUGoKidney and its mission; SciHigh program and its expectations; how biomedical research works; Northwestern’s Chicago campus; and the mentors and research teams they would be a part of for the next 8 weeks. Each student was matched with an experienced researcher or physician-scientist from Northwestern’s Division of Nephrology & Hypertension with research projects that aligned with students’ skills, interests, and career goals. Some students were also paired with buddy mentors who could be coaches and resources for students when mentors weren’t available. Below is a list of our committed and talented mentors and buddy mentors.

Headers from left to right - SciHigh Student, Mentor, and Buddy Mentor.

SciHigh Student


Buddy Mentor(s)

Chantel Beltran Tamara Isakova, MD Patrick Fox
Monserrat Estrada Jing Jin, MD, PhD
Aaron Jaszczor Anand Srivastava, MD Carlos Martinez
Danna Pichay Gal Finer, MD Xiangmin Zhao 
Gabriel Sheikh  Susan Quaggin, MD

Ben Thompson, PhD

John Silva, MD

Phoebe Leeaw


To support students’ mentored research experience, they also participated in additional opportunities to explore different areas of research, build professional skills (e.g,. public speaking, writing), and learn about college life, which included:

  • Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute Summer Scholar Seminar Series – a 6-week seminar where students learn how to develop, assess, and discuss research culminating in an oral poster presentation on their summer research project.
  • Weekly meetings with their SciHigh peers and SciHigh program coordinator to share and reflect on each week of SciHigh, their challenges, and what they learned. scihigh-students-tour-northwesterns-evanston-campus
  • NUGoKidney Research Workshop, “Understanding Kidney Disease: Basic Principles, Treatments, & Innovations”– a half-day workshop on the fundamentals of kidney biology and diseases and new areas of scientific discovery with some of the leading kidney experts from Feinberg School of Medicine.
  • Information session and tour of Northwestern’s Evanston Campus to help students learn more about advising, admissions, and student life.
  • Conversation with kidney disease research advocate and hip-hop artist, David Rush who shared with students how kidney disease touched each phase of his life and inspired him to work to advance kidney health.  
  • Written reflections and blog posts about their experience to provide students with another way of reflecting on their experience and also hone their professional writing skills. Click the links to read the blogs from Aaron, Gabriel, Danna, Monserrat, and Chantel.

The SciHigh Summer Program culminated with a showcase on Thursday, August 8th where students presented their research projects to an audience of their mentors, buddy mentors, family, and leadership and faculty from Holy Trinity High School. To give you a glimpse of the projects student's worked on, the titles of their presentations are listed below:

  • Chantel Beltran, Impact of Various Recruitment Methods on Clinical Trials
  • Monserrat Estrada, The Prevalence of COL4A5 Mutations in General Population and X-linked Inheritance of Alport Syndrome
  • Aaron Jaszczor, The Association Between Renal Microvascular Perfusion as assessed by Contrast Enhanced Ultrasound and Kidney Function
  • Danna Pichay, Determining if Tcf21 in Cap Mesenchyme is Required for the Regulation of Renewing/Differentiating Nephron Progenitor Cells
  • Gabriel Sheikh, Uncovering the Cardio- and Renoprotective Mechanisms of SGLT2 Inhibition
SciHigh Showcase 2


Along with their research projects, students also shared their appreciation for the program; summer highlights; and takeaways from their experience.


Aaron Jaszczor was most inspired by his shadowing experiences observing how his mentors prepare, approach, and communicate with patients and potential research participants.

“Shadowing Dr. Srivastava was one of the most inspiring things I did here,” recalled Aaron. “He was very thorough and personal with each patient. Seeing what goes on behind the scenes in human subjects research was an amazing experience.”

Chantel Beltran – who also learned about clinical research this summer – shared some of her takeaways from the summer. “I’ve learned research and science contribute a lot, and the type of clinical research I have been exposed to is just a small piece of the big picture.”

“At the start of the summer, most of my interest in science was in neuroscience,” recalled Danna Pichay. “This summer I learned that the kidney is quite beautiful. I now find the kidney to be on the same level of fascination as the brain. Perhaps, I can combine the fields of neuroscience and nephrology someday.”

Danna Pichay Presents at SciHigh Showcase

Monserrat Estrada also shared her takeaway from the summer. “One lesson I can draw from all this experience is that not everything is what you might expect. I heard about some experiments that didn’t go as planned, and I saw that in my own experiment, which was actually fine because it’s part of learning and science.”

Gabriel Sheikh reflected on how SciHigh has helped him uncover his career interests and excitement for science. “I have developed a greater excitement for science as a whole,” Gabriel noted. “By immersing myself in this program, I’ve learned that science is much more approachable than I thought. I was initially intimidated, but my once uncertain STEM path is now invigorated with passion and assurance.”

All around it was a fun-filled and rewarding summer for everyone involved in the SciHigh Summer Program, and we can’t wait to see the heights these budding young scientists take their talents to next!

SciHigh Showcase 1

Check out all the photos from the SciHigh Summer Student Showcase and the summer here.

Questions or want to learn more about the SciHigh Program? Email us at

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