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Future Leader in STEM award recipient

CBS4 Denver’s Lauren Whitney (left) presented RCHS student Molly Dolan the Future Leader in STEM award.

Lauren McCaffrey (left) and Molly Dolan (right) holding test tubes with fruit flies from their research on type 1 diabetes at Rock Canyon High School.

Article and photo by Lisa Nicklanovich; photo courtesy of CBS4

CBS4 Denver recognized Molly Dolan of Castle Pines as a Future Leader in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) for her research at Rock Canyon High School (RCHS). The award, presented by Colorado School of Mines and PDC Energy, is an initiative to recognize Colorado high school students who are excelling in STEM.

Dolan and her lab partner, Lauren McCaffrey, just completed their junior year at RCHS and a big part of their time was spent in Biotechnology 2, an independent research course. Dolan and McCaffrey investigated the effect of insulin-producing E.coli on the diet of fruit flies as a potential treatment for type 1 diabetes.

RCHS Biotechnology teacher Shawndra Fordham said, “Molly is a dedicated, hard-working, intelligent young woman. She has persevered throughout her research as she encountered challenges and setbacks that are common with scientific research. She has had a positive attitude, worked incredibly hard, strengthened her critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and worked effectively with her teammate, Lauren McCaffrey. Molly and Lauren came in nearly every weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, for months to complete their research. These two are some of the hardest working students I have ever had the privilege to teach.”

Dolan said, “One weekend Ms. Fordham had to ban us from coming in because she said we needed a break.” The lab partners came into the lab during access class as well as before and after school some days. The research was time-consuming, time-sensitive and “every day we had a new problem,” said Dolan. McCaffrey added, “In Biotechnology 1, so much was given to us, but in 2 we had to figure out so much on our own – from how to use the machines to how to make things work and the timing; this helped with our personal growth and independence in this class.”

Dolan exclaimed, “I feel very honored, but it is our research that won this award. Lauren worked as hard, if not harder than me.” McCaffrey immediately responded, “Molly doesn’t give herself enough credit sometimes. It is a partnership and she has definitely done her fair share of work, so I think she definitely deserves this award.”

Dolan received a cash award and a student profile on CBS4 Denver with Lauren Whitney. To see the segment which aired April 24, visit To learn more about CBS4 Future Leaders, visit



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