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Volume 89 Issue 24 | Web Exclusive
Issue Date: June 13, 2011

Chemists In Training

Nonprofit analytical chemistry lab Students 2 Science offers students an industrial experience
Department: Education
News Channels: Analytical SCENE
Keywords: Students 2 Science, outreach, education
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Middle school students from Robert Treat Academy titrate an antacid solution.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Middle school students from Robert Treat Academy titrate an antacid solution.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Richard F. Meyer is cofounder of Students 2 Science and serves as its curriculum director. He retired in 2009 from the analytical testing lab Intertek and is now a principal for the pharmaceutical consulting firm Kirkpatrick Group.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Richard F. Meyer is cofounder of Students 2 Science and serves as its curriculum director. He retired in 2009 from the analytical testing lab Intertek and is now a principal for the pharmaceutical consulting firm Kirkpatrick Group.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Richard V. Vivilecchia has been volunteering with Students 2 Science since 2008, when he retired from Novartis. At Novartis, he most recently served as executive director of pharmaceutical and analytical development. Vivilecchia is now consulting for the pharmaceutical industry.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Richard V. Vivilecchia has been volunteering with Students 2 Science since 2008, when he retired from Novartis. At Novartis, he most recently served as executive director of pharmaceutical and analytical development. Vivilecchia is now consulting for the pharmaceutical industry.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Fran Nelson was a medicinal chemist at Wyeth from 1991 until 2005. She served as an adjunct professor at William Paterson University from 2007 until 2010. She says that female students need more women role models in the lab.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Fran Nelson was a medicinal chemist at Wyeth from 1991 until 2005. She served as an adjunct professor at William Paterson University from 2007 until 2010. She says that female students need more women role models in the lab.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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John Adams says that volunteering with Students 2 Science has helped him keep his skills sharp and continue to network with other chemists while he searches for his next job.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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John Adams says that volunteering with Students 2 Science has helped him keep his skills sharp and continue to network with other chemists while he searches for his next job.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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McHardy Smith spent 20 years at Merck, most recently as a senior research fellow. In 2008, he began consulting and teaching at Middlesex Community College. In 2009, he joined Students 2 Science as a volunteer.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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McHardy Smith spent 20 years at Merck, most recently as a senior research fellow. In 2008, he began consulting and teaching at Middlesex Community College. In 2009, he joined Students 2 Science as a volunteer.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Kenneth Kopec worked at Novartis for more than 30 years, most recently serving as director of global regulatory chemistry, manufacturing, and controls until he retired in 2008. He started volunteering with Students 2 Science about six months ago.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Kenneth Kopec worked at Novartis for more than 30 years, most recently serving as director of global regulatory chemistry, manufacturing, and controls until he retired in 2008. He started volunteering with Students 2 Science about six months ago.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Allen Jones was an associate director at Merck before retiring in 2008. He was with the company since 1986. He is now a consultant and spends several days a week volunteering at Students 2 Science.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Allen Jones was an associate director at Merck before retiring in 2008. He was with the company since 1986. He is now a consultant and spends several days a week volunteering at Students 2 Science.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Now retired, analytical chemist Harshad Kadakia spent 27 years at Colgate-Palmolive. He says that he has always wanted to give back to the community and that working with students is very rewarding.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Now retired, analytical chemist Harshad Kadakia spent 27 years at Colgate-Palmolive. He says that he has always wanted to give back to the community and that working with students is very rewarding.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Analytical chemist Arleigh Hartkopf spent 18 years at ExxonMobil Chemical. He is currently director of DaVinci Information Group.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
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Analytical chemist Arleigh Hartkopf spent 18 years at ExxonMobil Chemical. He is currently director of DaVinci Information Group.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
Middle school students from Robert Treat Academy titrate an antacid solution.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN

It’s a scene typical of an industrial chemistry lab. Roughly 50 people dressed in white lab coats are concentrating on experimental procedures: setting up titrations, checking pH meters, analyzing spectra. They may look like experts, but these experimenters don’t have a degree in chemistry. They’re eighth-grade students from Robert Treat Academy, an inner-city charter school in Newark, N.J., and they’re getting real-world lab experience, thanks to Students 2 Science.

Students 2 Science is a new nonprofit corporation in East Hanover, N.J., that is providing laboratory experiences to middle school and high school students, with a particular emphasis on minority, underrepresented, inner-city, and female students. Students work alongside professional chemists who are volunteering to serve as mentors.

“As scientists, we love sharing our work,” says Paul A. Winslow, who founded Students 2 Science in 2007 with the help of fellow chemists Richard F. Meyer and Donald V. Truss. “Our mission is to inspire and motivate children to pursue science-related careers.”

Students 2 Science gives students the opportunity to experience working in an industrial lab. “By the very nature of the dangers and the liabilities that are associated with laboratory operations, kids never really get to see what a laboratory experience is,” Winslow continues. “We’ve created a safe environment without taking away the commercial setting, the complexity, and the sophisticated nature of chemistry.”

At the heart of Students 2 Science’s facilities is a 10,000-sq-ft analytical chemistry lab equipped with high-tech instrumentation donated by local chemical and pharmaceutical companies. These companies, along with private foundations and individuals, also provide funding to sponsor students from disadvantaged backgrounds so they can attend the program for free. For example, a grant from BASF sponsored the students from Robert Treat Academy.

These students “exemplify the academic and personal achievements that are possible for students who are given the opportunity to thrive,” says Donna Jakubowski, community relations specialist at BASF. “Not only do these students get to experience advanced science in a professional laboratory setting, they also interact with scientists and mentors to learn about what they do and explore potential career paths.”

“The exposure to real scientists doing everyday work is invaluable,” says Christine Kelley-Kemple, a science teacher at Robert Treat Academy. “Many of our students don’t have that example at home.”

In Students 2 Science’s core science program, middle school students visit the lab three times during the year and conduct experiments that reinforce state and national core curriculum standards. Truss says that they focus on middle school students because studies have shown middle school is the time when students in the U.S. are most likely to be interested in science. Students 2 Science also offers programs for high school students and continuing education workshops for teachers.

For Winslow, Students 2 Science is his way of giving back to the chemistry community. Winslow received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and worked in industry for many years before cofounding Quantitative Technologies Inc., an independent contract analytical testing laboratory. Winslow retired in 2007 when he sold QTI to Intertek. “I came from a very modest background,” Winslow says. “My brother and I were the first generation in our family to graduate high school. I really believe that education, and specifically science education, created all the opportunities and the success that I’ve enjoyed over my professional career.”

Students 2 Science’s volunteers share Winslow’s vision for improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. “I like looking at their faces and seeing that lightbulb turn on,” says medicinal chemist Fran Nelson, who has volunteered roughly two days per week for the past year as a mentor. “You have to remember that they’re middle school students, so the concepts in this lab are way beyond their years, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take something away from what they’re doing—the ability to analyze data, to look at results, to interpret data based on the information they’ve had, and to have some real-life experiences here,” says Nelson.

Winslow hopes to expand Students 2 Science into a franchise with facilities around the country. In the near-term, he and his partners are working to integrate distance-learning capabilities so that more schools can participate. “I think our true value is in facilitating the relationship between the private business sector and public education,” he says. “Our goal is to reach as many kids as we possibly can.”

The nonprofit analytical chemistry lab Students 2 Science is run entirely by volunteers. Dozens of chemists from around New Jersey have put in countless hours guiding students through their experimental procedures and advising them on career opportunities in the sciences. Many of these chemists have spent decades working in industry and are now giving back to their community. Others are in transition and looking for ways to stay active and connected. They share a passion for outreach and for improving science education among today's youth. In the next few slides, you'll meet some of these volunteers and see them at work.

 
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