Two Rutherford County high school students, Helene Hamo and Edgar Lozano, are seeing the results from their MTSU “Project SEED” research efforts this summer.
Hamo, a Stewarts Creek High School senior, and Lozano, a senior at Central Magnet School, worked in the program under the guidance of MTSU Department of Chemistry chair Greg Van Patten and graduate and undergraduate students.
Project SEED, or Summer Education Experience for the Economically Disadvantaged, is a research program that gives high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to work with scientist-mentors on research projects in industrial, academic and federal laboratories.
The American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation sponsor the program.
“They’ve made really great progress,” said Van Patten. “They’ve been taking semiconductor quantum dots that are known and have certain kinds of interesting properties and trying to change those properties by introducing new materials into them through a new kind of chemical reaction: a cation.”
Cations are atoms that have lost electrons.
Van Patten said experts have known for some time that cadmium could be exchanged with silver in tiny quantities and expensive reagents, “and these guys (Hamo and Lozano) found a way to scale that up to large quantities with cheap reagents.”
The pair, who each received a $2,500 fellowship, finished their two-month research endeavor Aug. 4. Their mentors also included chemistry graduate students Alex Morris and Ryan Tilluck and senior biochemistry major Ron Higdon.
Lozano, 16, called their summer a fun experience where they enjoyed doing new things.
“We’ve learned a lot about safety in the lab,” Lozano said. “Then we also learned how to keep up with lab notebooks to keep our research, to keep a current record of everything we do.”
For Hamo, 17, it “has been a really unique experience and I’ve learned a lot.”
“I’ve had really great people teaching me in the beginning, and then we were kind of led off on our own,” she added. “This is definitely a much bigger scale than it is in high school. And I’ve learned lots of new terms and lots of new things.”
To learn about Project SEED opportunities for 2017, call Van Patten at 615-898-2956 or email Greg.VanPatten@mtsu.edu.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)