The University of Arizona's Bio5 Institute honored a group of high school students who participated in a summer internship program designed to help cultivate a new generation of scientists.

"This is what the University of Arizona is all about," said Jennifer Barton, a UA biomedical engineering professor and assistant director of the Bio5 Institute. "It's important that we serve the state of Arizona."

High school students from across the state submitted applications to the KEYS (Keep Engaging Youth in Science) internship program in January. They were selected based on the applications, academic achievement and research interest.

The 24 students selected spent five weeks working with research teams at the Bio5 Institute.

Students were paired with the research teams that provided mentoring and support.

The students also were allowed to rack up considerable time in the lab working side-by-side with professional researchers and academics.

On July 15, at the Bio5 Institute in the Thomas W. Keating Building, the students presented their research findings.

Their research covered a diverse spectrum of topics, including the effects of habitat fragmentation among mountain lion populations, genetic characteristics of rice that could help maximize harvest yields and the foraging behavior of honeybees.

Businessman Thomas Keating, who is also a Bio5 Institute benefactor, said the students work and that of the scientists they've teamed with was an inspiration.

"It's so easy to admire these people," Keating said.

In his comments to the students, faculty and other people gathered to see the interns' presentations, Keating described his own wayward youth. It wasn't until age 56 that he completed a college degree, he said.

In addition to donating large sums of money toward the Bio5 Institute, which is housed in the building that bears his name, Keating and his wife Reenie were among the many private donors who help support the KEYS internship program.

"There's no doubt in my mind that you are improving the human condition," Keating told the interns.

The names of this year's participating students are: Selina Baeza-Loya, Alison Comrie, Connor Davey, Matthew Davis, Jacquelyn De Sa, Tanner DeBellis, Alex Downs, Shelly Goldberg, Matthew Gomez, Ellen Green, Yurika Isoe, Theo Jones, Jasmyne Mendez, Rohitha Moudgal, Ly Pham, Carlos Ramirez, David Reinthal, Aruna Sakthi, Rhiannon Springer, Swetha A. Swaminathan, Vicram Vettiyil, John Woods and Asim Zehri.

More information about the KEYS program is online at http://keys.pharmacy.arizona.edu.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at pmcnamara@azbiz.com or (520) 295-4259.