MTSU offers chemistry research for high school stu...

MTSU offers chemistry research for high school students via Project SEED

Siegel High School senior Lyn Smith has wasted no time absorbing as much knowledge as she can through Project SEED, MTSU‘s chemistry research program for high school students.

Project SEED — Summer Education Experience for the Economically Disadvantaged — gives high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to gain research insight and exposure to future career opportunities in science with the help of MTSU professors and student mentors.

Project SEED students assist MTSU student researchers.

Project SEED high school students Jonathan Holzann, left, and Lyn Smith assist MTSU students in gathering information for an experiment. (MTSU photos by Jayla Jackson)

“I actually plan on majoring in chemistry when I go to college. My teacher thought that this would be a very good opportunity to learn more about it,” Smith said.

Not only do the high school students have the chance to bond while creating chemical reactions, but they also go beyond the classroom — something they’re not used to at this extent at high school.

“At the high school level, you don’t get into all of the detail, and it’s more of the basics,” Smith added. “Over here (at MTSU) you’re actually getting to work professionally with different people instead of by yourself.”

Jonathan Holzann, who’ll be a junior at Central Magnet High School in Murfreesboro, had thanks for MTSU for giving him an opportunity to expand his interest in science.

“It’s been great working here,” Holzann said. “This is a much better job than I thought I’d get over the summer.”

For the duration of the program, each student will be working to synthesize a ligand molecule to be coupled with metal to form a metal catalyst for an amine alcohol coupling reaction.

Project SEED students clean stir bars.

Project SEED students Jonathan Holzann, foreground, and Lyn Smith clean the stir bars in the MTSU lab.

Smith and returning student Edgar Lozano of Central Magnet each received a $2,500 fellowship provided by the American Chemical Society and MTSU’s Office of Research Services through its director, Jeff Porter.

The summer research is co-sponsored by the Chemical Catalysis Program of the National Science Foundation under the award NSF-1465051.

All three teens will continue working in MTSU Science Building labs as a part of Project SEED for the rest of the summer.

The ACS-sponsored program runs for two months,, and some workdays last as long as eight hours. These students were nominated and selected to work alongside Dr.Keying Ding, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry in MTSU’s College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

“This is my first time participating in Project SEED, but when the students came here I could see their motivation,” Ding said. “Although they haven’t taken much chemistry in high school, I can definitely see their potential.”

Chemistry department chair Greg Van Patten has served as a mentor for Project SEED since 2013 and supervises the analytical methods conducted during the program.

To learn more about Project SEED opportunities at MTSU for 2018, contact Van Patten at 615-898-2956 or

— Jayla Jackson (

Project SEED students make sure excess substance is off stir bars.

MTSU graduate student Keshav Paudel, left, and undergraduate student Daniela Taylor continue their research as Project SEED students Jonathan Holzann, foreground, and Lyn Smith remove excess substance from stir bars.

MTSU students and Project SEED students shown in MTSU lab.

MTSU graduate student Keshav Paudel, left, undergraduate student Daniela Taylor and Project SEED students Jonathan Holzann and Lyn Smith pause for a photo while working in the MTSU research lab.

MTSU and Project SEED students take a break from research.

Daniela Taylor, left, Keyshav Paudel, Jonathan Holzann and Edgar Lozano take a break from research with pizza, strawberry cake and more.