When Glenn Hutchins, a member of the Lawrenceville class of 1973, and his wife, Debbie, established the Hutchins Scholars in Science Research in 2010, the goal was to provide real-life research experiences that would interest top science students in careers in the field. Glenn Hutchins, founder of private equity company Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing, was concerned about the loss of research expertise domestically and its impact on America’s ability to compete on the world stage.
During the first few years, Hutchins Scholars and their adviser, Director of Research Elizabeth Fox, struggled to find summer placements in university and corporate labs. These were high school students – untested and unproven.
Fast forward 13 years. The Hutchins Scholars in Science Research program currently enjoys research partnerships with the Seung Kim Laboratory at Stanford University Medical School, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Trinity College in Dublin. From an initial “class” of eight Scholars, the program now operates three cohorts with an average of 36 students overall participating each summer.
Despite a growing demand for Lawrentians by the research labs, the onus is still on students to make those connections. Fox, working with Nicole Lantz, assistant chair of the science department and director of Stan-X (Stanford) partnerships, tasks the Cohort three students – the rising Fifth Formers – to take ownership of their internship placements. The students are required to research prospective hosts by immersing themselves in their academic papers and to reach out independently to meet.
“This format served us well again this year,” said Fox. “Several scientists commented how impressed they were with the students’ emails that clearly demonstrated familiarity with their work. By the end of spring term, all students had secured placements.”
The placements are universally impressive. Six of the 13 students in Cohort Three, all members of the Class of 2023, were attached to the Seung Kim Lab at Stanford, where Lawrentians have been engaged in a longitudinal study of gene expression in pancreatic diseases. Naa Kwama Ankrah, Praachi Chakraborty, Alistair Lam, Maddy Laws, Jackson Lee, and Kyle Park conducted their research with the help of drosophila – fruit flies – ideal subjects for gene studies due to their DNA profile and rapid reproduction.
For the other seven students in Cohort Three, the research ranged from physiology to psychology. Anushka Chintamaneni, Satvik Dasariraju, Kishori Shah, and Sean Wu studied diabetes, cardiac procedures, and liver disease at Jefferson University Hospital. Lily Hooge interned in plant phylogeny with John Clark, a former Lawrenceville faculty member and now research botanist at Selby Botanical Gardens, while Sally Lee pursued education research at Carnegie Mellon and Jack Patel explored influences on mental wellness at the University of Pennsylvania.
Often, the Scholars share publication credits with their research hosts in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Cohort Three is the culmination of a three-year scheme of study and internships. The program begins with Cohort One and a two-week immersion in molecular techniques, including laboratory visits, primary source readings, and attending research seminars. Cohort One students are selected for continuation in the program through a competitive process. Cohort Two students participate in the first of two six-week summer internships, and Cohort Three is required to present their research to the Lawrenceville community during the fall academic showcase.
Class of 2023 Hutchins Science Scholars are now attending Harvard, Yale, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Case Western, Santa Clara University, and the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
The success of the Hutchins Scholars in Science Research program has led to a greater interest in science research among many more students than the program can accommodate. Research in Molecular Genetics, a two-term course now in its fifth year, and Projects in Molecular Genetics, taught by Fox and Lantz, were developed with start-up funding from the Hutchins family to provide research experience to students both within and outside the program. The courses are taught at maximum capacity, with 20 students split into two sections and a consistent waiting list.
Fox and Lantz are supported in their work by several alumni and Head of School Steve Murray, along with Clark, all of whom have contributed their contacts and expertise to help raise the profile of the program. Dr. John Devine ’85 made the initial introductions for Lawrentians at Jefferson University Hospital earlier in the history of the Hutchins Scholars, and Murray knew Seung Kim from their shared days at Exeter. Vivian Gao ’17 was one of the hosts at Trinity College for Cohort Two students Anabel Guerreiro ’24, Krish Mehta ’24, and Emily Piggee ’24 last summer.
The Hutchins Scholars in Science Research program was the first of what are now five Scholars Programs available to Lawrenceville students, covering historical research, social justice, environmental studies, and literary research/creative writing. Interested students are encouraged to explore the opportunities to participate in these programs with their teachers and advisers.
For additional information, contact Lisa M. Gillard H'17, director of public relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.