Published on 07/16/18

Young Scholars celebrate a summer of scientific curiosity and inspiration

By Merritt Melancon

Pipette, check. Lab coat, check. A sense of scientific curiosity, double check.

It’s not your typical gear list for summer camp, but it covers just what Georgia high school students needed while they participated in this summer’s University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Young Scholars Program.

For almost three decades, the CAES Young Scholars Program has paired the college’s researchers with high school students to foster students’ love of science and introduce them to the breadth of study that forms the foundation of agriculture, Georgia’s largest industry.

During the Young Scholars Program, students are paid to work as research assistants in laboratories across the college to complete real research projects alongside their faculty mentors.

This year’s 59 Young Scholars represent more than 35 high schools from across the state.

“Each year, we are pleased with the level of research students are able to accomplish in six weeks,” said Victoria David, director of the CAES Office of Diversity Affairs. “Many Young Scholars alumni who got their initial exposure to science in this program currently work in labs across this campus and in industry.”

The students worked in some of the most advanced laboratories on UGA’s Griffin, Tifton and Athens campuses during the six-week program. They assisted in actual research projects led by UGA faculty and, at the end of the program, they presented their findings in a research symposium. Some students may be listed as co-authors on these studies when they are published in academic journals, which is rare for students who have not completed high school.

Twelve graduating Young Scholars will have the opportunity to continue their research work when they attend CAES in fall 2018.

Doug Bailey, CAES assistant dean for academic affairs, urged all of the Young Scholars gathered for the program’s closing ceremony on July 13 to consider careers in science and to consider starting those careers at CAES.

“I hope, again, that you take away the value of science and that science can be fun and so interesting,” Bailey said. “My parting words would be to never stop learning. Keep that energy and enthusiasm that you’ve showed these last six weeks, and you’re just going to have a blast in life.”

Promoting science for 29 years

The Young Scholars Program began at UGA-Griffin in 1989. The program was originally intended to provide a collegiate experience to students who were not planning to attend college.

Since then, the program has expanded to include scientists at UGA-Athens and UGA-Tifton. Students selected for the program are truly ready to engage in real-world research. They are matched to projects of potential interest.

Because of this experience, many Young Scholars continue their research careers while attending UGA as students through the college's undergraduate research program.

For more information about the program, visit or email David at

The application period for next year’s program will run from October 2018 to January 2019.

This year’s Young Scholars:


  • Robert Anderson, North Oconee High School
  • Walter Avila, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Samantha Ayoub, Jefferson High School
  • Catrina Chamberlain, Woodland High School
  • Kasey Daniels, Druid Hills High School
  • Makenzie Driggers, Effingham County High School
  • Kristen Dunning, North Paulding High School
  • Cole Ehlers, Clarke Central High School
  • Korbin Fears, North Springs Charter School
  • Mikayla Frierson, Buford High School
  • Megan Groomes, Collins Hill High School
  • Song Khaing, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Matthew Li, Adlai E. Stevenson High School
  • Marin Lonnee, Oconee County High School
  • Ben Mathis, Oglethorpe County High School
  • Haley McMillan, Archer High School
  • Adonis Merritt, Alcovy High School
  • Ami Patel, Dutchtown High School
  • Paul Paterson, North Oconee High School
  • Sabar Prasad, North Oconee High School
  • Andres Reyes, North Oconee High School
  • Jenny Sanchez, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Zaharia Selman, Rockdale Magnet School
  • Jordan Shepard, Dutchtown High School
  • Paige Walcott, Prince Avenue Christian School
  • Madison Walker, Grayson High School
  • Skyler Walker-Harris, Ronald E. McNair High School
  • Catherine Wang, Cedar Shoals High School


  • William Anong, Starr’s Mill High School
  • Samuel Cross, St. George’s Episcopal School
  • Joshua Duffey, Locust Grove High School
  • Austin Duncan, Whitewater High School
  • Tamara English, Dutchtown High School
  • Mary Grace Johnson, Flint River Academy
  • Maddox Jordan, Spalding High School
  • Taaseen Khan, The Heritage School
  • Yuheon Lee, McIntosh High School
  • Lauren Moyer, Dutchtown High School
  • Sheilendria Rawls, Spalding High School
  • Meghan Rogers, CrossPointe Christian Academy
  • Jolie Ryff, Whitewater High School
  • Emily Shi, McIntosh High School
  • Martha Sikora, Spalding High School
  • Sarah Smyly, Spalding High School
  • Melanie Wagner, Whitewater High School
  • Robert Wall, Strong Rock Christian School
  • Dean Watson, Locust Grove High School
  • Caroline Zhang, McIntosh High School


  • Cole Byers, Tift County High School
  • Lydia Connell, Tiftarea Academy
  • Amy Deariso, Colquitt County High School
  • Kirsten Flinn, Tift County High School
  • Porter Hill, Deerfield-Windsor School
  • Jessica Lane, Worth County High School
  • Mitchell Mathis, Oglethorpe County High School
  • Peyton Matt, Tiftarea Academy
  • Mitchell Riley, Colquitt County High School
  • Walter Sanders, Tift County High School
  • Luis Torres, Tift County High School

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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