For the past six years, Project SEED has not only found ground at Duquesne University but has flourished.
Economically disadvantaged, academically talented students gain hands-on experience doing chemistry research and experiments with state-of-the-art technology at Duquesne.
The eight-week program, which runs till mid-August, puts students in the lab or field Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. Each of the six students from Sto-Rox High School and Carrick High School has a specialized project and a mentor from Duquesne, and receives career counseling.
“I enjoy coordinating this project every year because this program has a profound impact on these students’ lives. Just recently, one of my former Project SEED students told me that this program changed his life,” said Dr. Jennifer Aitken, assistant professor of chemistry, and director of the program, which has received national honors in the local program category.
Two students in the group, Candice Thornton and James Claybourne, both from Sto-Rox High School, will present their research at the 238th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition on Monday, Aug. 17.
“The great thing about Project SEED is that it shows students who excel and work hard that they can go places and share the same experiences, no matter how much money they have,” said Candace Thornton, who was inspired to seek the Project SEED program by a previous Project SEED participant. “I was a hard-working student with no goals or plans for the future: now I’m second in my class and I plan to double majoring in chemistry and archaeology when I go to college.”
Students receive stipends for their work and compete for $5,000 college scholarships, which Duquesne program students have succeeded in earning.
Support for the program comes from the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, who believe so strongly in the program and its long-term goals that they have included Project SEED in their annual budgets. Participating for the first-time is Siemens; other supporters include the American Chemical Society and an array of local companies.