2017 University of Hawaii Summer Science Camp
Headline by Shreya Silori, Class of 2018
Contributors: Guer Buasai (c/o ’19), Jacob Chang (c/o ’19), Rishab Tandon (c/o ’18) Bloom
Cader (c/o ’18), Sunand Sethi (c/o ’19) and Jojo Chou (c/o ’18)
Photo Credits: Kittipong Areewattanasombat (c/o ’19), Mr. Ray, Ms. Katherine, Ms. Chawisa
Edited by WIS Staff
For the fourth straight summer, the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and
Human Resources (UH-CTAHR) opened its doors to our students to provide valuable experience
working alongside researchers tackling real-world problems.
The University of Hawaii (UH) Summer
Science Camp is an annual program held by
Wells International School every summer for
a duration of six weeks. It is held at the UH
main campus at Manoa in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Students from high school participate in this
program. The main concept of this program is
to have students working in different labs of
various sectors in Biology. They work in
these labs with their respective professors and
graduate or undergraduate students. It is an
overwhelming experience to spend the
summer in Hawaii gaining new knowledge.
A group of 16 high school students
participated in the program this year. The
research areas this year included entomology,
virology, molecular biology, nematology,
phylogenetics, molecular diagnostics,
bioengineering, biochemistry, ecology and
much more! Some of these fields were very
new and some were familiar.
The students spent their weekdays going to labs and working on their projects or helping out in
existing projects in these research areas. Apart from the labs, summer was also filled with other
fascinating activities such as hiking, watching movies, kayaking, spending time at the beach and
Apart from the work and lively moments, the UH Summer Science camp indeed prepares
students for a university life. The students lived in university dorms among other students from
the university. Their work hours were very similar to those of the graduate and undergraduate
students in the university. The students learned to travel, cook and clean on their own. Through
this, the students gain an insight on how a university life is. This program prepares students for
future endeavours and definitely teaches them to be independent individuals.
There was also a two nights three days trip to Kauai for students to discover more of the
Hawaiian islands. Everyone cherished the elegance of Hawaii by exploring its culture through
visits to historical places such as Pearl Harbor and natural beauty through various hikes or trails.
The Hawaiian culture is indeed a very welcoming one and it is definite that the students truly
adored this trip.
Overall, this program is a great opportunity for high school students who wish to gain experience
in terms of living standards, conditions and working experience as well as new cultures and
traditions. It is a highly recommended program for students to learn and grow as individuals.
The following are reflections of this past summer of some of this year’s participants who, in their
own words, convey value of such programs.
Sirut (Guer) Buasai, Class of 2019
Six weeks in Hawai’i was a great and exciting summer experience for me. It was incredible meeting new groups of people, experiencing laboratory work, and developing communication skills. I worked in Dr. Muszynski’s lab with a lab manager, two graduate students, and two undergraduate students. I spent my first four weeks developing a DNA primer on maize.
The purpose of my project was to identify a mutation in maize plants at an early stage of growth. For the last two weeks, I spent my time in the field, training with Dr. Muszynski. As Dr. Muszynski had put it, “The field is where the magic happens, where the genes we studied in the lab are expressed, and the results of the experiments are shown.”
I learned several things through activities, lab work, and field work in Hawai’i. The Koko Head
hike was a great example because, through hiking those steep steps of the “Stairway to Heaven” I
learned that perseverance is essential to achieve something great. I did not realize how beautiful
and worthy the Koko Head hike was until I reached the top and appreciated the nature and the
opportunity to be there. Through my lab project, I learned that it is crucial not to give up because
research takes work and it is likely that your experiment will not get you the conclusion you
want the first time you do it. Through my lab and field work, I learned how to be an effective
communicator with adults as well as working with them.
Overall, I have grown more mature, more attentive, and more confident. The benefits that this
program has given me are tremendous. Not only did I develop essential life skills but also
learned how to be a good person in the community, how to appreciate opportunities, and how to
strive for your goals despite difficulties in achieving them.
Yan Fuu (Jacob) Chang, Class of 2019
Despite not initially having
much of an expectation or
understanding on how the
program would work, I
somehow left the camp
extremely impressed and
stimulated. The reason behind
such an unpredicted reaction
stemmed from how instead of
getting a simulated work
environment akin to an
internship, the program offers
roughly six weeks of a
completely different lifestyle. This primarily can be credited to the interactions and altruism of my professor and graduate student, activities planned by the supervisors, and the fresh locale.
Within a laboratory environment, the professor and graduate student greatly enhanced my point
of view of how a scientist functions, and as a result greatly increased my appreciation for it.
They perhaps demonstrated the more important aspects of being a scientist, not necessarily in the
work alone but also the daily interactions between different people, how things are
organized/labeled, daily routines that may appear mundane but are ultimately necessary, and
hobbies that may or may not relate to the job at hand. In short, instead of learning how to operate
like a scientist, I was taught how to live like a scientist – with a sizeable amount of depth. It was
originally difficult for me to imagine that people with such highly regarded jobs would need to
seek out materials online for their cheapest prize, or
have time for popular recreational pastimes such as
anime, but I was glad to have finally met those that do.
Outside of the lab, the multitude of activities planned and executed by the supervisors (Ms. Chawisa and Ms. Katherine) emphasized on balance, in both fun and basic living. The fact that every weekend has something in store for us wasn’t unappreciated, as it brought such a diverse range of entertainment, ranging
from hikes, beach activities, shopping, arcade,
movies, to even simply watching fireworks. Instead of leaning towards one type of recreation, widely different ones are given to aid in understanding the cultural difference as well as benefits of each performed pastimes. The mandatory gym workout was also something that I unexpectedly enjoyed, as it provided me some physical activity I usually would have avoided, which once again provided another aspect to the aforementioned lifestyle shift. It
is also important that I thank Mr. Ray and Insee for spending their time aiding me in the gym,
who both also gave me more insight towards simple yet impactful acts of generosity.
In short, this science program has provided an extremely memorable event as it didn’t simply
provide an educational encounter, but also a shift in perspective to a more desired lifestyle and
outlook, which is all thanks to those that were willing to expend their precious hours to give me
Rishab Tandon, Class of 2018
As I made my exit from the airport into
Hawaii, stepping foot into a
world I’ve never seen before, my nerves started to get to me. I heard chatter between several of my classmates, in regards to their experience in this program from last year, and the hard work they had to put into it. Honestly, listening to them scared me. Not only was I in a new corner of the globe, but I was about to embark upon an unimaginable journey, whereas several of my fellow travel companions have had prior experience in such matters.
Nevertheless, the day of reckoning was upon us, and we all made our way towards the lab, mine
being phytobacteriology. It was our first day, and just the sight of the laboratory, while being
quite the sight, terrified me. It was astounding to think that I would be working with such
delicate and expensive equipment, doing university level research. Two emotions dwelled within
me at that point, one of utmost excitement and joy, and one of anxiousness. The latter however
seemed to fade away as I grew closer to the professor in charge (Dr. Mohammad Arif), and the
wonderful graduate student (Adriana Larrea) who helped me all summer. It was their unending
support that got me through a university level research program, with nothing but fond memories
of my time there. I learnt several advanced techniques ranging from DNA extraction, to qPCR. I
don’t think I will ever forget that underlying chemical scent as I stepped foot into the lab, that
white desk by the corner I worked on, and my professor and graduate student who never quit
supporting me despite having to go over techniques with me multiple times.
Furthermore, the support from Mr. Ray, Ms. Chawisa, Mr. Arch, Ms. Katherine, Amber and
Justin, is what helped me get by in a place I never set foot upon in the entirety of my life, as they
drove us late in the evenings for our selfish shopping needs and much more. It was thanks to the
conjunctive effort of the members in my laboratory, and our wonderful teachers that I was able
to have the time of my life, in a short span of just 6 weeks.
Basith (Bloom) Cader Class of 2018
After an extensive lengthy comprehension, I
was fully able to condense and express out my experiences from Hawaii in a simple description: a well-worth, well-rounded glimpse of what university life would be like. The Wells science program at UH- Manoa is comparable to a joy-filling trailer, filled with the happiness of building closer and tighter bonds, the fun of accomplishing and learning new complex skills and the excitement of working in the field of a subject that you are passionate about.
However, the most important factor in making the trip a surreal life experience, is the stress from
living independently whilst also working as a young adult. This stress is what helps each and
every one of us mature more as a young adult, teaching new and important skills such as time
management, resiliency, and much more. Hawaii itself opened a lot of new perspectives about
life to me, allowing me to obtain the courage to try new things ranging from tilling the soil at the
lab’s field to trying to be the first in the group
to reach up the beautiful top of the famous
Koko head. Furthermore, the experience from
Hawaii made me more comfortable when it
comes to speaking with people, allowing me
to fully break the barrier of shyness in me.
Reflecting upon the camp just made me
realize on how unique of an experience the
trip is, having both fun and hard-working
stressful situations in them. Having these
things, the experience truly provides a short
look at what life after high school would be like. Hawaii is and always will be the best
experience from my collective high school years. Coming back to Thailand, I realized that a part
of Hawaii also came back with me. In forms of acquaintances, lab peers, close friends whom I
have shared experiences with, and teachers that ultimately became friends as well.
Sunand Sethi, Class of 2019
The science camp was an amazing experience for us all, we did not only get the opportunity to
work renowned professors in their fields but to learn basic life skills of independence which
would support us in the future if we ever choose to go to a university as well. During the
program we grew as individuals learning in the labs, supporting ourselves at the dorms and
improving our health through occasional hikes and regular training. As for the lab work, we
worked from 9 to 5 on the weekdays helping the professors and graduate students on their
research, learning about the current technology and techniques used in biology labs today. This
allows us to apply our knowledge from school into real world situations which I believe was the
utmost important key feature of this trip.
On the other hand, the trip exercised
our basic life skills as we had to do most things ourselves. This included getting to the labs and carrying out your work on time, taking care of your own health and hygiene, washing your cloths as well as
keeping a clean environment around you. These tasks may seem ordinary but the most important part of it are
the small things in life which you can learn from experience and the people around you that stick with you throughout your whole life.
The trip was to be taken seriously, though it was a lot of fun. We were surrounded with close
friends, went out on trips during the weekends and study the things we love. During the program
we were able to explore a whole career path through the sciences which may have either fueled
your interests for your future or helped you decide to choose other lanes to walk, either way it
was an experience to remember.
Man Lin (Jojo) Chou, Class of 2018
This trip to Hawaii is an opportunity of a lifetime. A trip
that gives a glimpse of how an independent university student’s life would be. A trip that provides the life skill experiences that we need as young adults. A trip to make new friends and meet new people in a different environment. And a trip that gives us the opportunity to pursue our interest in science and expands our knowledge beyond the school grounds with the help of our respected professors.
The UH Summer Camp science program has given a chance for me to see what’s out there, somewhere different from the culture I live in. It gave me the courage to try out new experiences, as well as learning unique, useful skills that
cannot be obtained by staying in one place. Additionally, it shows us a true view of how adulthood would be like.
Noticing the uncountable responsibility that waits for us as we age, I learned that this
‘frustration’ is the reality of life. But within this frustration, I also learned the passion within it.
The passion to find the very interest that turns the ‘frustration’ into something enjoyable,
something joyful. I would say it is the biggest the lesson that I will ever learn.
Furthermore, I have seen the beauty of Hawaii. The astonishing views, beaches, weather and the
friendly citizens. I am truly moved by how the people of Hawaii have shown me their kindness,
generosity, friendliness and the warm smile on their faces. Especially those who have helped me
in seeing things in different perspective. They are the people that became my friends and
someone who I will never forget. The most beautiful experience I ever had. And I would like to
say ‘Thank you’ to all those who have helped in making this trip possible. Truly a remarkable