CLIMB interns

Jennings students from UMSL’s 2017 cohort of CLIMB interns with program director Patricia Parker in the Parker lab at UMSL.

Photo by August Jennewein

The University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) will conduct its summer paid internship program, virtually, with study and research targeted on COVID-19 and the African-American community. UMSL research mentors include 10 professors from Biology, Chemistry, Math and Computer Science, Communication, and Education. 

The Collaborative Laboratory Internships and Mentoring Blueprint (CLIMB) developed a virtual curriculum for the summer to continue to support high school students in disadvantaged communities. CLIMB is a partnership between the University of Missouri–St. Louis and the Jennings and University City school districts.

Structured weekly activities engage the 2020 CLIMB interns to think like a scientist until they are scheduled to enter campus in fall 2020 for hands-on laboratory experience. In the exercises planned, the high school students will learn about epidemiology, discuss the biology of what is happening in our lives at this historic moment, explain how this pandemic impacts minorities and understand the role of equity in diseases, and develop presentation skills.

The spring/summer program will be administered as an UMSL Advance Credit course for one hour of college credit at no expense to the students. For the scheduled hands-on internship, they will be hired as part-time temporary UMSL employees.

The program was developed through a close partnership established between Patricia Parker (interim director of the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center and E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Zoological Studies in the UMSL Department of Biology) and her partners in Jennings Schools, Rhonda Key (assistant superintendent of Jennings School District) and Miranda Ming (principal, Jennings Senior High School).

“I wanted to help provide the same kinds of high-quality experiences that students from more affluent districts have,” Parker said in 2017.  “These students are truly gifted and mature beyond their years. They can focus and master highly technical skills. They have tenacity, curiosity and grit, on top of their innate talents.”

For more information, contact Parker at

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