In a few weeks, Tristan Freeman will return to Carrick High School for his senior year—after winding up his summer job as a junior researcher at Duquesne University.
Freeman is one of seven local high school students welcomed by Duquesne into its labs as part of Project SEED, a national program to encourage careers in chemistry among under-represented populations. On Duquesne’s campus, economically disadvantaged, academically talented students have been introduced hands-on chemistry research with state-of-the-art technology for seven years.
Today, Freeman became one of three high schoolers in the program at Duquesne to present posters at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in Boston—a heady end to an interesting summer.
“You put pressure on yourself to present well because of the preparation of the lab group and professor,” said Freeman, who already had presented his work once this year at Duquesne’s Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, alongside other high school and undergraduate researchers from the region. Freeman cut his teeth on research last year in Project SEED, but focused on a new topic this year: explaining the pathway of fluids in cells.
Like Freeman, the two other presenters—Sydney Burkholder and Amanda Anderson, both of Sto-Rox High School—returned to the program from last year.
“Through our students, we have learned that Project SEED has had an impact on their ambitions, career choices and professional path—especially among girls and other minorities, who often are under-represented in this field,” said Dr. Jennifer Aitken, associate professor of chemistry and director of the program.
Project SEED provides students with stipends for their work and the opportunity to compete for college scholarships. Support for the program comes from the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh, the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, the American Chemical Society and individual donors.
The program has been recognized with the national ChemLuminary Award for the Most Outstanding Project SEED Program.