Grant Supports Research Experience for High School Students and Teachers

Dr. Kyle Frantz, a researcher in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) at Georgia State University, has received a five-year, $544,320 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to fund an intensive summer research program for high school students and science teachers in metro Atlanta.

The program is known as the Institute on Neuroscience and Teaching (ION/Teach).

“ION is a long-standing program of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience,” said Frantz, who, in addition to her role as a CBN researcher, is a professor at Georgia State’s Neuroscience Institute. Almost 100 graduates of the program testify of the program’s benefits, including introductions to authentic scientific research, the opportunity to mature both academically and personally, and a really fun summer of discovery,”

The primary goal of the eight-week program created by Frantz and partners from Georgia State, Emory University and Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center is to engross a diverse group of high school juniors, seniors and teachers in mentored laboratory research experiences. By participating in mentored research with investigators at the partner schools and Georgia Institute of Technology, Spelman College and Morehouse College, students and teachers are introduced to an environment where they take part in practical learning and enrich their content knowledge, technical skills and confidence in their ability to conduct research.

“ION has taught me so many things – life skills, such as how to comport myself in a professional setting, how to be timely, how to uphold a schedule – as well as science skills, such as making solutions or doing surgeries,” said ION scholar Eesha Oza, a student from Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology. “All of these skills will be useful assets in my future, enabling me to be a better student and to be more prepared to tackle any sort of research scenario.”

Weekly professional development workshops focus on topics such as scientific communication, college preparation, ethical conduct of research and lesson plan development by teachers.

“As teachers, we get bogged down just trying to get kids to understand the basic facts,” said Kathryn Mullen a science teacher at South Dekalb High School. “But ION helped me remember that science is not memorization of facts. It is a way of thinking. I hope to pass that attitude on to my students day one of class.”

The second goal of ION/Teach is to track whether participation in laboratory research improves practical research skills and augments research or teaching efficacy and confidence in science. The effectiveness of lesson plans developed by teacher participants will be evaluated. Assessments of the program will fill a gap in knowledge about how best to prepare young people to help address biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs.

“Ultimately,” Frantz said, “the hope is that student participants will pursue neuroscience as a career path, teachers will develop standards-based lesson plans based on their summer research, and new education research data will be available for dissemination to the international science education community.”

Collaborative partners involved include: Geert De Vries, CBN researcher and neuroscience professor at Georgia State; Chris Goode, Georgia State lecturer in Psychology; Donna Maney, associate professor in the College of Arts & Sciences at Emory; and Stuart Zola, director of Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center.


An abstract of the grant, 1R25MH095735-01A1, is available on the NIH’s Project RePORTER website.

*The National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25MH095735 supports the research education program reported in this press release. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.