Blasker Grant a "Vote of Confidence" for TSRI Internship Program

By Mika Ono

At a ceremony at the San Diego Natural History Museum on July 10, The San Diego Foundation awarded The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) $50,000 to support its Summer Research Internship Program. The award, a Blasker grant which represents a $12,000 increase over last year's funding, will support 15 local high school students and five undergraduates in TSRI labs next summer.

"I would like to thank the foundation for its generosity," says Keith McKeown, TSRI's vice president for communications and public relations. "The increase is a real vote of confidence for our outreach program."

Communications Specialist and Outreach Coordinator Jennifer O'Sullivan adds, "Working at TSRI, being a member of a lab, and contributing in some way to a research project can be a life changing experience. The additional funding will enable us to make this experience available to more students."

The Summer Research Internship Program is one component of TSRI's Education Outreach Program, which aims to promote and improve science literacy, enhance science teachers' professional development, and inspire students to pursue careers in the life sciences. Special emphasis is placed on selecting students from cultures and ethnic backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. This year, the summer program drew 120 applications for 28 positions.

"The high quality of applicants makes the selection process very difficult," notes O'Sullivan.

Since the outreach program's inception in 1993, 289 high school students, 34 science teachers, and 82 undergraduates have participated in summer internships at TSRI. Since 1995, more than 1,000 teachers have attended the Contemporary Issues in Bioscience seminar, and in the past three years more than 1,500 high school students have attended the half-day educational program X-Sci.

The mission of the San Diego Foundation is to improve the quality of life in San Diego communities by promoting and increasing responsible and effective philanthropy. Its Blasker-Rose-Miah Fund was established to "nurture and develop unique and innovative discoveries and experiences that may benefit all mankind, and to support and encourage individuals with high potential in the scientific, engineering, and medical fields to reach their full potential."

Other sources of funding for the Education Outreach Program have included: the Samuel H. and Katherine W. French Fund and the Maurice J. Masserini Charitable Trust, both administered by Wells Fargo Bank; the San Diego Workforce Partnership, which funds 10 to 15 internships each year through the Neighborhood House Association; the Joseph Drown Foundation; the Carl E. Wynn Foundation; and the Bank of America Foundation. In addition, private contributions have been received from philanthropists Robert Wallace; George and Patsy Conrades; and Oliver and Norma James.

Endowment funding for the outreach program includes gifts from TSRI Trustee John Diekman and his wife Susan Diekman; The William Randolph Hearst Foundation; and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.




TSRI Communications Specialist Jennifer O'Sullivan (left) poses with San Diego Foundation Science & Technology Working Group members Joe Farrage and Lori Fleet Martin, after accepting a Blasker grant for TSRI's Summer Research Internship Program. Photo by Roz Hodgins.