2018 BioGENEius Mentor Awardee

Cara Pekarcik
North Quincy High School

Quincy, MA

Peter Starodub exemplifies dedication to STEM teaching through his cumulative 29 years of international and national teaching and mentoring experience. He has served as Director of Science Research at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates, California for the past 15 years. Over these years, he developed the Grade 9-12 student research program from just 15 students to more than 125 enthusiastic annual participants today.

His objectives are clear: to teach students the steps in the research method, to develop a research project in an area of their own choosing and then hopefully to develop in the student a love of research and a passion for conducting research. 

Many students who start in their freshman year continue the program for all four years. Why?

Peter understands that research is often an experience in failure as part of hypothesis testing.  He therefore encourages students to push through the setbacks, of which there can be many, to promote resilience and motivation. Through many hours of conferencing and personal interest in each student and his/her research, he motivates them to stay the course regardless of outcome. 

His approach breeds success.  Each year, his students go on to conduct research at such diverse locations as the University of Southern California, UCLA, LA BioMed, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the Madrona Marsh Preserve and a number of private technology companies. They have qualified and placed at the top of BioGENEius, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the Intel Talent Search, the prestigious International Stockholm Junior Water Prize and the Los Angeles County and California State Science Fairs.

So it is with great honor we recognize Cara Pekarcik with the 2018 BioGENEius Mentor of the Year Award.