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High Schoolers Discover Careers in Science Through Project SEED at Duquesne

Six local high school students are discovering college and careers in science through an intensive, hands-on initiative at Duquesne University.

Over the past seven years, Duquesne University’s Department of Chemistry and the American Chemical Society (ACS) have established an important network of connections for economically disadvantaged high school students that introduces them to careers in science.

Through Project SEED, academically talented students gain paid, hands-on experience conducting chemistry research and experiments with state-of-the-art technology. The eight-week program, which runs from June 20 to Aug. 12, places students in the lab or field Monday through Friday, eight hours a day.

Each of the six students from Central Catholic, Steel Valley and Sto-Rox high schools, as junior researchers, have a Duquesne mentor, participate in education and career counseling, receive stipends for their work and compete for $5,000 college scholarships, which Duquesne program students have succeeded in earning.

“We have developed a very rich program here,” said Dr. Jennifer Aitken, associate professor of chemistry, and founding coordinator of the program. “In addition to their research projects, students receive safety and library training. They also participate in field trips to local chemical companies, meet with admissions and financial aid staff, and visit at least one other local university.”

This year, Project SEED is a finalist for the ChemLuminary Award, which will be presented at the ACS’s National Meeting in Denver, Colo., on Tuesday, Aug. 30. The award recognizes ACS members and student affiliates for outstanding accomplishments, achievements and service.

Professor of Chemistry Dr. Jeffry Madura and Sto-Rox High School chemistry teacher Joshua Lucas assist in coordinating the program. This year, students also are blogging about their experiences.

“I am very excited to work with this year’s group of students,” Madura said.  “I am also very pleased with the immense support that the program has received from the University.”

Funding for this year’s program came from: the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh; the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh; the Local Pittsburgh Section, American Chemical Society; a private donation from Joshua Lucas, Sto-Rox High School Chemistry Teacher; and the National American Chemical Society.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.