High School Students Receive Fellowships to Perform Research at Rider

One Somerset and two Mercer County high school students were selected to conduct chemical research at Rider University this summer as part of the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED summer program.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One Somerset and two Mercer County high school students were selected to conduct chemical research at Rider University this summer as part of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Project SEED summer program.

The Project SEED program provides a $2,500 fellowship to an economically disadvantaged student to participate in summer research at an academic, government or industrial laboratory. An important feature of the program is its emphasis on career development and its motivation of students to pursue higher education in the natural sciences.

“Rider has a proximity to some traditionally disadvantaged cities such as Trenton. These school districts too often lack monetary and educational resources, which unfortunately impedes under-serviced high school students from realizing their potential and pursuing science as a profession,” explained Dr. Danielle Jacobs, who has served as Rider’s Project SEED program coordinator for the past three summers. “So ultimately, our Project SEED program is about more than just doing science. Part of the mentoring experience is teaching life skills, preparing students for the real world, and opening their eyes to careers they had never even dreamed of pursuing.”

On Rider’s Lawrenceville campus, students perform eight weeks of laboratory work on an original research project, visit chemical and pharmaceutical companies, and receive counseling on applying to and paying for college. This summer’s participating student fellows included:

  • Dashawn Furqan, a 2011 graduate of Lawrence High School, worked under the direction of Dr. Danielle Jacobs, designing an undergraduate laboratory experiment to explain the mechanism of the Claisen Rearrangement, a common chemical transformation. Furqan was nominated for the fellowship by his Chemistry teacher, Matthew Davis. This was Furqan’s second summer as a Project SEED fellow.
  • Bryan Berger, a senior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, worked under the direction of Dr. Bruce Burnham, synthesizing novel pyrrole nucleosides as anti-cancer and anti-viral agents. Berger was nominated for the fellowship by his Chemistry teacher, Andrew Knorr.
  • Brianca Hart, a senior at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, worked under the direction of Dr. Feng Chen, on the synthesis and characterization of zinc titanates doped with MgTiO3 to be employed in microwave devices.  Hart was nominated by her Chemistry teacher, Cheryl Pieroni.

This summer, Project SEED fellows visited Pharmanet (Plainsboro), Sanofi Aventis (Bridgewater), the New Jersey State Forensics Laboratory (Hamilton), The Chemical Heritage Foundation (Philadelphia), ChemGlass (Vineland), and the Salem Community College Glass Education Center (Salem).

The student fellows gave oral presentations summarizing their scholarly research to other students and faculty at the Rider Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on August 4 on the Lawrenceville campus. They are expected to give poster presentations explaining their projects at the Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Spring 2012.

Rider University has hosted Project SEED fellows since 1976, when Dr. William McCarroll, professor emeritus of Chemistry, and Dr. John Sheats, professor emeritus of Chemistry, recognized that Rider and the surrounding community would benefit from a program that would train motivated and talented individuals to do chemical research. 

Project SEED is funded jointly by the ACS and local industry. Program support for this summer’s program was provided by Pharmanet, Sanofi Aventis, and the local Trenton ACS section.

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