Project SEED Continues to Encourage Next Generation of Scientists

Posted on July 13, 2016

Ten area high school students have been spending much of their summer break taking part in Project SEED, an eight-week program offered through the chemistry department in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and the American Chemical Society (ACS) that places high achieving, economically disadvantaged high school students into a chemistry lab.

“Project SEED provides these students with the support, encouragement and mentoring that they need to pursue a career in the sciences,” said Dr. Jennifer Aitken, director of Project SEED and associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “This year’s group of students is very impressive and I have high hopes for them.”

The following students began Project SEED on June 20 and will work through Friday, Aug. 12 with University faculty mentors who supervise the research that the students are conducting on a variety of topics:

  • Israa Abdulmuttaleb, Jeramiah Jones and Angel Williamson-Wheat – Allderdice
  • Asia Parker – Carrick
  • Sarine McKenzie – Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12
  • David Donehue and Zachary Opalko – Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy
  • Gildas Kodjo and Jordan Pestok – Sto-Rox
  • Destiny Lawrence-Brown – Urban Pathways Public Charter School.

Among this year’s research topics are Investigation of Novel Inhibitors of ERK5 Signaling in Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation and Invasion (supervised by Dr. Jane Cavanaugh, associate professor in the Mylan School of Pharmacy); A Study of Gunshot Residue (GSR) Transfer by SEM-EDS (supervised by Dr. Stephanie Wetzel, assistant professor from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry); and Synthesis and Characterization of Quaternary Diamond-Like Semiconductors (supervised by Aitken).

This year, Justin Collinger, a chemistry teacher at Obama academy and project co-coordinator, is in the lab with the students on a daily basis overseeing their work.

All Project SEED participants will present their research results via posters at the annual Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on Friday, July 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Bayer Learning Center and Mellon Hall of Science.

Since its launch 13 years ago, Project SEED has hosted 59 students, almost two-thirds of whom have been female and more than half have been African-American, Hispanic or biracial students interested in STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. Project SEED has also received support from the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh, the society for analytical chemists of Pittsburgh and the local Pittsburgh Section of the ACS.


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