August 04, 2011

Exhibit highlights research by students

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two high school students from the area will have the opportunity to sharpen their chemistry skills thanks to programs in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Their work, along with the work of promising undergraduates at SIUC, is the centerpiece of an exhibit this week on campus.

Project SEED, a program sponsored by the American Chemical Society at SIUC, has one student participant this summer. The student, Tavae D. Lewis of Carbondale, is working with Punit Kohli, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Lewis is the son of Odel Lewis of Carbondale and attends Carbondale Community High School.

Project SEED is aimed at steering economically disadvantaged students to learn more about chemistry. It offers a unique opportunity for talented local high school students, who spend the summer working full-time in the laboratory with SIUC faculty mentors. Students selected receive a $2,800 fellowship for their eight-week program. Students who complete the first summer satisfactorily and have not entered college next summer can return for a second round of research the following summer. An ACS grant to faculty, as well as funds from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the College of Science and a grant to Kohli fund the project.

For more information on the program, go to

One high school student also will participate in the department’s Summer Program for High School Students. Natasha R. Harpalani, of Carbondale Community High School, will work with mentor Gabriela Perez-Alvarado, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Harpalani is the daughter of Satya and Monyshka Harpalani.

The program provides promising high school students the opportunity to work on research projects with an SIUC faculty mentor. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the faculty mentor support the program.

The University will host a reception and poster session highlighting the students’ research efforts from 2 to 4 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6 on the second floor hall of the Neckers Building.

The event also will feature posters from undergraduate students at SIUC and other universities involved in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program. The program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to work on research at the forefront of materials science and engineering under the guidance of SIUC faculty mentors, preparing them for graduate school and further professional education.

Professor Daniel Dyer and Associate Professor Boyd Goodson, both of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, coordinate the REU program at SIUC.

For more information on the REU program, go to