August 06, 2012

Local students to present research projects

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Local high school students are getting some help with chemistry from programs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this summer, with their work culminating in a campus event this week.

Three high school students participated in this year's program. The event, set for 2-4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at the west end of the James W. Neckers Building, will showcase research projects the students completed in cooperation with University faculty and staff.

The event features a poster session followed by a reception and also will include research presentations from undergraduate researchers.  It is free and open to the public.

The programs give students the chance for hands-on research experience and to work with faculty mentors, said Gabriela Pérez-Alvarado, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. The opportunity that SIU Carbondale provides to local high school students goes along with the mission of an educational and research institution, and it is important that the University reach out to the community and engage local high school students in activities that will enhance their participation in future scientific disciplines, she said.  It can also help direct students to careers in their fields of interest.

  The programs are part of Project SEED, which stands for "Summer Experience for Economically Disadvantaged," and the Summer Research Program for High School Students. Students in both programs receive fellowship awards and the students in the American Chemical Society-sponsored program are eligible to compete for ACS scholarships only available to SEED participant students.

The National Science Foundation, along with the College of Science, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry also sponsor the event.

This year's high school students are:

• Brian Suarez of Carbondale Community High School. His mentor was Colleen Scott, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

• Brooke Nosovitsky of Carbondale Community High School. Her mentor was Michael Lydy, professor of zoology.

• John Barron of Herrin High School. His mentor was Pérez-Alvarado.

During the same event, undergraduate students from several different universities as well as SIU Carbondale will present posters as part of the NSF-sponsored Research for Undergraduate Students program, also hosted by SIU Carbondale.  That program, coordinated by Boyd Goodson, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Saikat Talapatra, assistant professor of physics,aims to increase participation in the sciences, and pairs students with faculty mentors in the departments of physics and chemistry and biochemistry, and the College of Engineering.