VGHS junior Evan Chaparro was one of 50 students statewide selected to the KEYS program at the University of Arizona’s BI05 Institute. The competitive science intern program is open to high school students from around Arizona with a strong interest in bioscience, engineering, environmental health, or biostatistics. Chaparro was the first student from Casa Grande to be accepted into the program, and one of the youngest. For seven weeks, in June and July, the sixteen-year old resided on the UA campus and researched the impact plants have in healing damaged terrain. As an intern, he was assigned to the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining where he worked in the Tucson lab every day from nine to five extracting plant DNA and analyzing soil samples. His project focused on land damaged by the Carlota Copper Mine near Miami, Arizona, and using revegetation to repair it. While students in the program worked independently, their research was guided by professionals in the field. Chaparro hopes his summer research project will eventually lead to programs that help heal and repair lands damaged by copper mining. Next summer, Chaparro hopes to attend another science lab program or serve as a mentor for the KEYS program. Chaparro is currently focused on completing his junior and senior years, and attending college to become a chemical engineer working in the field of environmental sustainability.