Phoenix Teen Conducts Scientific Research in Israel

Photo: Kyle Polen is pictured here with the other U.S. Bessie Lawrence participants. He is on the right, sitting on the branch of the tree in the maroon shirt.

Last month, local budding scientist Kyle Polen returned from four weeks on the Weizmann Institute’s campus in Rehovot, Israel. The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading scientific research institutions, with hundreds of researchers making a global impact in areas ranging from health and medicine, to alternative energy, to space exploration.

Polen, who graduated from Chaparral High School this year, was one of 20 talented teens from the United States selected to participate in the Weizmann Institute’s annual Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute (ISSI).

Every summer since 1969, around 80 highly talented, high school graduates preparing to enter their first year in college attend ISSI. This prestigious program, which provides full merit-based scholarships to all participants, affords students the opportunity to conduct research with world-renowned scientists in biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science. This month-long program, conducted in English and open to youth from anywhere in the world, involves intensive lab work, lectures on the Weizmann Institute campus, and social activities and tours throughout Israel.

Students work in labs with sophisticated equipment and senior Weizmann Institute scientists, who also offer lectures on topics such as robotics, gene therapy, and brain research. Students are encouraged to lead seminars on subjects of their choosing and present their findings.

After three weeks in Rehovot, the group moves to the Judean Desert and the Negev, where expert guides from the Sde Boker Field School introduce them to Israel’s unique ecosystem and wildlife, and lead hikes and excursions that offer overviews in history and archaeology. The program is a special way to experience Israel at its best and make connections that last a lifetime.

“The Weizmann Institute’s ISSI has given me unforgettable memories and valuable experiences in the scientific field and beyond. I’ve befriended people from all over the world, expanded my global perspective, and learned incredible things about Israel,” says Polen, who will attend Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University, in the fall. “I learned that scientific research involves more than just background knowledge in order to succeed. I developed a passion for the work and looked forward to writing, and presentation-making every day.”

Beyond the lab, Polen found the opportunity to explore Israel eye-opening: “I will never forget waking up at 3 am and racing to the top of Masada before sunrise. This was my second trip to Israel, and I was fortunate enough to see many new sites this time. My love for Israel has developed into a passion, and I will certainly return as quickly as possible.”

Polen added that his greatest takeaways from the program were the friendships he made with fellow participants from across the globe. “The environment at Weizmann was unlike anything I had ever experienced. With students from all over the world, I learned about new cultures every day. I made lifelong friends when I least expected it.”

Click here for more information on the Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute program.


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