High school students sought for Purdue summer chemistry program

May 19, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - High school students from economically disadvantaged families with interests in chemistry might be eligible for an internship program this summer at Purdue University.

The program, called Purdue Project SEED, is funded by the American Chemical Society.

"The purpose of the program is to bring students to Purdue from economically disadvantaged households who are interested in chemistry and chemistry-related fields - including biochemistry and pre-med programs - and thinking about pursuing those majors in college," said Bryan Boudouris, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and coordinator of Purdue Project SEED.

The students perform experiments and gain valuable academic experience during the eight-week program, which begins June 1.

"We have had a great deal of motivated and successful students come through the program," said Boudouris, one of six mentors in the program. "They've used it to launch into their careers. A lot of our people have gone either to Purdue, Indiana University, or Ball State after participating in the program."

To qualify, students must be going into their junior or senior year next fall, have completed a semester of chemistry with a grade of C and be from households earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Participants receive a stipend of $2,500 for the program and have an opportunity to work with top researchers. Serving as mentors are five faculty members from the School of Chemical Engineering and one from the Department of Chemistry.

Jordan Thorpe, a senior at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, has completed two summers in the program. She worked the first year in a chemical engineering lab studying DNA methylation, which is important in many biological processes. In her second summer she worked in a laboratory performing research led by mentor Stephen Beaudoin, a professor of chemical engineering and interim associate vice provost for academic affairs.

"Participation in this program is so valuable when applying for colleges and scholarships because it shows that the student is striving to be successful and willing to throw him or herself in an unknown situation in order to learn something new," Thorpe said. "I was accepted into every college I applied for and offered several amazing scholarship opportunities, and I accredit much of that to my involvement in Project SEED. I have also developed awesome relationships with my mentor and professor, which have allowed me to come so far in understanding the concepts of research. This will help me tremendously when transitioning into other university labs during college. "

Tristan Maxson, a graduate of Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, also completed two summers in the program.

"The program gave me an opportunity to see what actual university research is like and helped me confirm my interest in research," he said. "The program gave me job experience doing something I intend to do as a career in the future and also helped me make connections with people in the scientific community. I am still with the same original SEED group I was placed in until I start at Ball State in the fall."

The other four mentors are Suzanne C. Bart, an associate professor of inorganic chemistry, and, in the School of Chemical Engineering, assistant professor Rajamani Gounder and associate professors Jeffrey Greeley and Julie C. Liu.

The deadline to apply to the program is Monday (May 25). Information about how to apply is available at the project Web site, http://www.purdueprojectseed.org, or by emailing the organizers at purdue.project.seed@gmail.com

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu 

Source: Bryan Boudouris, 765-496-6056, boudouris@purdue.edu 

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