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Project SEED Nurtures Budding Scientists

A distinctive science program at Duquesne University brings high school students to campus, giving them a summer job of conducting research while they learn about career opportunities.

This year, seven Project SEED students are matched with Duquesne faculty to work on research projects from June 19 through Aug. 11. The students will visit local industries that revolve around chemistry, discover what chemistry careers are available and learn about getting into college.

“This unique program exposes students to hands-on research as they work one-on-one with faculty and mentors,” said Dr. Jennifer Aitken, project coordinator and assistant professor of chemistry. “The experience is invaluable in helping students to solidify their career choices and improve their understanding of what is expected in this field.”

The program, which is administered by the American Chemical Society, has been hosted on the Duquesne campus for three years and is the largest in southwestern Pennsylvania. Students who meet grade and financial criteria are eligible for Project SEED after finishing a high school chemistry course. They earn a stipend and receive a raise if they return for a second summer.

A returning second-year student could reap additional benefits. Second-year students have been sent on expense-paid trips to the national American Chemical Society meeting; some have made presentations on their research data. Project SEED participants who major in chemistry fields at college could be rewarded with one-year, $5,000 scholarships.

“Project SEED definitely gave me a taste of what the chemical career field is like and what I can expect to do in the future,” said Tim McFadden, a scholarship winner who participated in the program for two summers. “That really helped me decide that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

“I really learned how to use all of the equipment,” said Dawnee Sloan, another scholarship winner whose project last year was to synthesize a compound that could draw harmful metals from drinking water. “I went into the lab and got the chance to do my research and to see everybody else’s research, too. It was a great way to spend a summer.”

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.