We are very proud to see our lab members on the AIChE Foundation’s Newsletter. The picture includes Eloise Parry-Nweye, Nna-Emeka Onukwugho, and Huda Usman. Eloise and Nna-Emeka co-authored a publication, and Huda won 3rd place at the AIChE Undergraduate poster competition. This was their first attendance to a national conference and a life-changing experience. Eloise received multiple offers for her graduate education and Nna-Emeka is joining the Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan.
On July 26, 2014, I gave a keynote address to high school students involved with the NSBE Precollege Initiative (PCI). This address was entitled “What is your Brand”. I exhorted the student to build a reputation that has a positive impact on their surrounding. This address also highlighted how to build a scientiﬁc reputation through research topics relevant to current challenges such as hydrocarbon pollution and multi-drug resistance.
Speaking to the McNair, LSAMP, CSTEP scholars during the convocation on May 9, 2014, was one of the most exciting moments of my professional development. In effect, “I am a pure product of the LSAMP, McNair Programs”, programs that I joined during my undergraduate education. As many of the NSF-funded minority programs, the McNAIR, LSAMP and CSTEP programs prepare students from underrepresented groups for graduate education. When addressing the graduating scholars at this particular occasion, I emphasized the importance of setting clear goals and developing a plan for achieving these goals.
In the summer of 2012 and 2013, I was appointed Summer Program Coordinator for the Syracuse University-Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation-Research Experience and Mentoring (EFRI-REM) program. My main role was to facilitate and organize the activities of the program, and most importantly, to provide mentorship to the Summer Research Scholars. The Scholars included high school teachers, high school students, and undergraduate students. On February 20-22, 2014, four of the EFRI-REM scholars attended the Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM in Washington DC. For most of them, it was the ﬁrst experience presenting their research project to a national audience. I encouraged the scholars to practice their oral presentation until they felt comfortable talking with ease about their complex research topics. This experience was very rewarding for both the Summer Researcher Scholars as well as to me. (Left picture: Dewayne L. Garner, Jr., Onondaga Community College, Syracuse NY, being mentored before his oral presentation; right picture: with Julie Hess, Syracuse University, Syracuse NY before her poster presentation.), Dewayne L. Garner, Jr. was awarded First Place for Oral presentation (under the section Biological Science for Undergraduate students).
The EFRI-REM program opened new doors to more mentoring and engagement in the school district of Syracuse, NY. Talking with high school students about a career in the STEM field has been one of my most exciting teaching experiences. Many students have a vague idea of what it means to be an engineer and are enthusiastic about the idea that they could also be a part of various engineering programs and learn how to develop solutions to societies current challenges. A survey was run after the lecture series and revealed that more than 95% of the students may be interested in an engineering program. However, more mentors are needed to address minor concerns related to the time span to become an engineer or to the work involved in earning a degree in engineering. Nonetheless, such outreach programs have the potential to increase underrepresented participation in the STEM fields if they become the main constituents of the school curricula.