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Marianas Variety: NMI needs more scientists, says agriculture specialist (August 23, 2017)

THE CNMI needs more scientists who can help improve the lives of the local people, according to Michael Ogo, aquaculture specialist of Northern Marianas College- Cooperative Research and Extension Education Services.

To date, he has mentored five high school students for the Short-Term Experience for Underrepresented Persons or STEP-UP annual research program which was launched here in 2011.

This year, he monitored the research work of Kloe Borja whose project was titled “Observation of productivity of Isochrysis galbana culture with exposure to different light intensities.”

Ogo also mentored Amea Reyes, whose work had to do with “Culturing Brachionus rotundiformis with different treatments of microalga to determine the best feed combination.”

Ogo said he was happy to impart the knowledge they have gained at NMC-CREES with the islands’ young scientists. He hopes that “one day they will come back and continue the work we are doing and improve the lives of our people.”

He said STEP-UP is a great program as it provides exposure and opportunities in science to high school students.

“Thanks to the collaboration of NMC, the Public School System and the University of Hawaii at Manoa with funding from the National Institute of Health, programs like this are making a difference and enriching the lives of the youth and helping them make sound career choices. It is a great opportunity for CNMI students that would otherwise be available only to students in Hawaii and the U.S. mainland,” he said.

He said STEP-UP is important because it provides opportunities to under-represented high school students to involve and immerse themselves in science, technology, engineering and math outside the formal school environment. This may lead them to consider careers in those fields, he added.

Ogo said he advises program participants to “use and apply the experience they gain in this summer program — pursue a college education and come back and help our people in the CNMI.”

To be able to qualify, STEP-UP local coordinator Annette Pladevega said students must be currently juniors or graduating seniors with an interest in science. He or she must have a 3.0 GPA and submit letters of recommendation, a high school transcript and a personal statement.

Pladevega said since 2011, over 30 high school students have participated in the program.

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