Summer Programs

The Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center hosts several summer youth programs that aim to provide students from middle school through community college with an introduction to environmental health, research, grant writing, and professional development.  Each program offers a unique hands-on experience designed to encourage students to enter STEM and environmental health areas of study at four-year universities. Learn more about our summer youth programs below.


The Steps 2 STEM Summer Research Internship is a 4-week research experience for students participating in the Pima County JTED's Biotechnology and Healthcare Foundations programs

Interns participating in Steps 2 STEM complete two days of science literacy training prior to spending the following four weeks working with professionals in STEM-related research laboratories across the University of Arizona campus. At the conclusion of the 4-week internship, interns present their experience at the Steps 2 STEM Research Exhibit. Steps 2 STEM is a collaborative project with Nadja Anderson, PhD, Director of the BIOTECH Project at the University of Arizona.

For more information about Steps 2 Stem click here.

Program Coordinator: Karla Bayless - Email Karla

A Student's Journey will address the academic transfer barriers for TOCC students enrolling at 4-year universities. Our staff members and collaborating faculty are determined to change the landscape of higher education and workforce on the Tohono O'odham Nation by offering an on-campus experience at the University of Arizona that directly serves the needs of TOCC students. 

A Student's Journey (ASJ) is a year-long program with a 5-week on-campus summer experience at
the University of Arizona for participating Tohono O'odham Community College (TOCC) students. 

For more information about A Student's Journey click here. 

Program Coordinator: Jordania Livingston - Email Jordania 

Environmental Scholars (ES) is a weeklong summer experience for high school students made possible through our partnership with the Upward Bound program, which helps high school students successfully transition to their college careers. Through this program students learn about environmental health and the support provided for them at a four-year institution. As a final project students create a grant proposal to tackle an environmental concern in their community.

For more information about Environmental Scholars click here.

Program Coordinator: Leesa Lyons - Email Leesa

Our Land, Our Education, and Our Health is a collaboration that began between the Tohono O’odham One Stop program and SWEHSC to offer students the opportunity to explore environmental health careers through an Indigenous lens and gain a sense of belonging on the University of Arizona campus.

For more information about Our Lands Education and Health click here.

Program Coordinator: Mayra Vargas - Email Mayra

Toxic Detectives is a week-long summer program for middle school students (grades 6-8) that introduces students to the field of environmental health and toxicology. This program provides students with the opportunity to make real-world connections to their own environment through a variety of hands-on science experiments, research laboratory tours, and STEM professional guest speakers. In addition, students will get the chance to explore the University of Arizona campus as well as attend some off-campus field trips. The program ends with a final showcase event on the last day where students give an oral presentation on a toxin of their choice.

The goal of Toxic Detectives is to instill confidence in students of their ability to pursue a science academic or career path.

For more information about Toxic Detectives click here.

Program Coordinator:  Mayra Vargas  - Email Mayra