Grants & Awards

AZ Partners in Science

How to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. This program sounds really interesting! How do I learn more?

A1. The Partners in Science program is a wonderful way to get your hands into real scientific research and get an experience that will benefit you and your students. But it is a partnership, and the application needs to come from the University Researcher. In order to partner with a researcher, you need to contact them first and tell them why you want to be involved in their project. This is not hard, and the researcher in the program will also benefit from your help! To contact a researcher, email the university representative, Dr. Lisa Elfring ( and express your interest in a certain field or subject. She will give you a list of names of researchers who have agreed to form a partnership. Contact the researcher of your choice (there may be more than one to choose from) and begin your relationship. Once that relationship is established, work with your mentor to complete the application form on the RCSA website. That's all there is to it!

Q2. I can't work all summer due to a year-round school schedule, or other personal or professional obligations. Can I still get involved?

A2. Yes. Many researchers will adjust to your schedule, although you should be able to commit to a minimum of eight weeks of full-time lab/field work each year. But this may not have to be all in one block, so busy schedules may be able to be accommodated.

Q3. What product is expected of me?

A3. Teachers selected will be expected to present their research at an annual national conference each year in San Diego. After your first semester you will prepare a poster detailing your research. Your university mentor will usually be able to help you with this. After the second summer, you will be asked to give a 12-minute presentation to other teachers about your research. Your Partners in Science award will cover all expenses associated with attending this conference.   And of course, you will be expected to incorporate your research into the courses you teach.

Q4. What about this conference in San Diego? Do I have to go? How much is it? When is it?

A4. The Partners in Science Conference is held annually for teachers and university researchers who have worked together on many different projects. It is a great opportunity to see what other science teachers have done in the program, and participation in the conference is a required part of the program. The estimated $500 travel cost is included as part of your award. All other expenses are covered by RCSA. The conference usually takes place at the San Diego Hilton. It is well attended by teachers and researchers in the northwestern states, New York and neighboring states, and Arizona. Keynote speakers are excellent and cover a variety of topics, and there are seminars and workshops on teaching techniques and new ideas that you will enjoy. Social events such as tours of the Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Sea World, and other San Diego attractions are also part of the program. Dinners are included, and adult guests are welcome.

The conference is sponsored by the Murdock Trust group based in Vancouver, WA. It is always held the weekend of Martin Luther King Day. For more information on the conference, see the Murdock Trust Partners in Science web site ( All participating teachers are required to attend the conference while their awards are active.

Q5. I'm a middle-school science teacher, can I still participate?

A5. No. The program accepts only applications with partnerships that include high-school teachers.

Q6. I know someone at the university and would like to work with them in their lab. How can I arrange that?

A6. Contact the researcher directly and express your interest in starting up a partnership. Some very strong partnerships have come from teachers and researchers who have already formed a friendship or working relationship.

Q7. What areas of research are available at the University?

A7. The research subjects will vary each year. This year there are available partnerships in chemistry, biology (all sorts of biology), geography, and remote sensing. Additional university faculty are still joining the program, so the list is not inclusive or static. If you do not see something you would be suited for, contact Dr. Silvia Ronco (RCSA, program officer) or Dr. Elfring to explore other possibilities. Alternatively, contact a university researcher and tell them about the program and offer to help them with their research. Keep in mind that you provide a free and competent research partner for them, and usually they are delighted to bring you onto their project.

Q8. How many partnerships are going to be formed this year? Will the program still be open next year?

A8. We expect to approve five partnerships in 2011. The program will offer new opportunities in 2012. RCSA is committed to continuing the program if it proves successful in Southern Arizona. There are plans to expand the program to other universities in Arizona next year.

Q9. If I still have questions, who can I call or email?

A9. You can contact the people listed below. Also check out the RCSA and Murdock Trust web pages to get a better understanding of the program.

Dr. Silvia Ronco
Program Officer, RCSA
520-571-1111 ext. 6814

Dr. Lisa Elfring
University of Arizona, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Associate Professor

Don Adams
Vail High School (Science Teacher)