Project Search

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Challenging high school students to explore new ideas

Project SEARCH is designed to provide an on-campus, intellectually challenging experience for academically motivated high school students. The program has been in operation since 1983, and the total program enrollment ranges from 200-225 students.

SEARCH's mission is to provide a forum in a college campus setting where high school students from southeastern New Hampshire and southern Maine can experience a series of presentations covering challenging interdisciplinary topics and interact with each other in discussion groups.

  • To foster positive attitudes toward the exploration of new and stimulating ideas through the exposure to presentations and subsequent group meetings through which they can hone their discussion skills.
  • To provide UNH graduate students with the experiential opportunity of developing group leadership and critical thinking skills for teaching intellectually curious students.
  • To encourage a positive spirit regarding the joy of learning through the collaboration of the high schools, their students, future teachers and practicing educators.


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Lauren Despins

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2021 Presentations

March 3 - Applying to College during a Pandemic
Richard Haynes, UNH Admissions Officer

Richard Hayes

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Richard Haynes was a first-generation student who was strongly encouraged by his middle school teacher to continue his education. He earned a BFA from Lehman College, and an MFA from Pratt Institute after serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam war.
Richard is a renowned artist, nationally recognized for his paintings and photographs. His work is in the permanent collections of the Currier Museum of Art, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Historic New England, the University of New Hampshire, Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture, and many other public and private collections. In his images, Richard recreates the plight of Black America. His work derives from memory and nostalgia, brightly colored with undeniable hope. Like Walt Whitman, Richard celebrates what it means to be an American in an era of significant National transformation. Unlike Whitman, he does so not with words, but using shape and hues. It is a style that is instantly familiar yet surprisingly new.
A sought-after speaker, Richard enjoys the ability to inform others about the importance of educating the young and letting them know that they can do the impossible - "Never say Never." 

"Higher education is a must" is the message Richard Haynes gives to all students. His ability to connect with students is unmatched, and his insight has touched many. He becomes a mentor to the students he meets, and Richard’s passion for all young people to succeed is undeniable. Through encouragement, he has inspired many to go to college.
Richard is currently the Associate Director of Admissions for Diversity at the University of New Hampshire.

March 17 - Mindfullness and Meditation
Robert Rivest, Performer and Teacher

Robert Rivest

Robert Rivest is an internationally admired performer and teacher. In addition to being a renowned comic mime artist, he is also an accomplished health, literacy and stress relief educator, a gifted mindfulness teacher, a certified laughter yoga master trainer and an engaging public speaker. Since 1990 Robert Rivest has given over 8,000 presentations in Europe, Asia, Africa and across the U.S. His mission is to use mindfulness, laughter and the performing arts to bring greater health and happiness to individuals and organizations around the world.


March 31 -  Pandemics and Epidemiology
Dr. Amy Michaud, Microbiology Laboratory Coordinator

Amy Michaud

Amy Michaud is a Skills Application Teacher in the department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences at the University of New Hampshire. She offers technical support for hands on teaching laboratory experience for undergraduate and graduate students. Courses that she directs include general microbiology, pathogenic microbiology, virology, immunology, microbial genetics and waterborne diseases and public health.

After receiving her master’s degree in Public Health from UNH, Amy became an instructor for the College of Health and Human Services. She teaches Introduction to Public Health and Epidemiology & Community Medicine.

When not at work, Amy enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. She loves DIY home projects and renovations, boating, gardening, hiking and enjoying all that New Hampshire has to offer.

April 7 - Accredited Zoos and Sanctuaries: Why are they both important?
Kelly Tardif, UNH Alumni, Certified Veterinary Technician, North Carolia Zoo-Animal Sanctuaries

Kelly Tardif

Kelly received a zoology degree from the University of New Hampshire in 2008. During her time at UNH, she studied abroad in New Zealand with an environmental studies program called EcoQuest that resulted in a directed research project working with endangered bird species. After graduating, she joined International Student Volunteers and participated in more field conservation work in Costa Rica, working with bottlenose dolphins and poison dart frogs. She eventually went to graduate school and got a masters from the University of Connecticut in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. In 2013, she moved to Tennessee to work with elephants at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee as an elephant caregiver. After a few years of working there, the sanctuary supported her through vet tech school which led to her working as both a caregiver and a veterinary technician for the sanctuary. In 2018, she got a full time job as a registered veterinary technician for the North Carolina Zoo and started a new chapter in her life. She is currently still working at the zoo as one of their veterinary technicians and looks forward to more opportunities to enhance her clinical skills, contribute to endangered species research, and volunteer to help in real conservation issues happening around the world.

April 14 - Anxiety During the Pandemic
Dr. Lynn Lyons, Psychotherapist

Lynn Lyons

Lynn Lyons is an internationally recognized psychotherapist, author, and speaker with a special interest in interrupting the generational patterns of anxiety in families. She is the co-author with Reid Wilson of Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents and the companion book for kids Playing with Anxiety: Casey’s Guide for Teens and Kids. She is the author of Using Hypnosis with Children: Creating and Delivering Effective Interventions which describes treatment approaches for children with anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and medical issues. Lynn has a private practice in Concord, New Hampshire and has been in practice for over 30 years.

May 5 - Looking Ahead Past the Election
Dante Scala, Associate Professor UNH- Looking Ahead past the Election

Dante Scala

Dante J. Scala is professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, a Carsey Faculty Fellow, and Master in Public Policy Faculty. He has studied the changing political demographics of New Hampshire for two decades, and his expertise is recognized locally and nationally.
His recently published work include case studies of several recent New Hampshire elections. He took part in a multi-state study of campaign communications in 2008, funded by the Pew Foundation and published by Temple University Press. His current work includes a study of campaign finance in the era of super PACs.
Dante is a graduate of Villanova University. He holds a master's degree and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.




Current Participating Schools:

New Hampshire Maine
Coe Brown Northwood Academy Noble High School, North Berwick
Nute High School, Milton  Traip Academy, Kittery
Prospect Mountain High School, Alton  
Winnacunnet High School, Hampton  
Newmarket High School  
Past presentations and discussions:

The Election 
Poetry Slam
Taiko Drumming
Being Black in Maine
350NH (climate change)


Dreams of the Brain
Gay Marriage
The Art of Mime
Galileo - Living History
Civil Liberites and National Security

Animal Sanctuaries
The Bee Crisis
Herion/Opiate Issue
The Real Science of GMO's