For nearly 10 years, the St. Mary's Honors Independent Research Study program has offered juniors and seniors the opportunity to craft a research project on a topic of their choice, select a professional mentor in the Memphis community, and create a scientific paper and oral presentation. Grace Sammarco '18 who presented on hydroponic farming said, "I enjoyed getting a feel for something I would like to do later in life, and I appreciated the opportunity to work with professionals in the community."
Students choose the topic on their own and the school helps them to partner with a mentor to complete the research. Shelley Wright, St. Mary's Upper School instructor for AP Biology/Anatomy and Physiology/Engineering oversees the project and assists with the research paper and presentation process. Honors Independent Research Study (HIRS) is a semester course, so the students must complete a series of due dates and requirements to stay on track. Their biggest challenge is writing a scientifically styled thesis paper with supportive references to include their mentor's publications and/or recommended publication and interviews. Depending on their project, the girls will either write an experimental style paper or a review style paper.