Summer 2023 saw 333 high school students carry out in-person Project SEED research internships. An additional 13 students from across the US participated in eight Virtual Research Programs, allowing them to connect with mentors remotely. Since 1968, Project SEED has provided sustained research, learning, and growth opportunities for high school students with diverse identities and backgrounds to help them advance and enrich the chemical science enterprise.
Project SEED appeals to a broad range of student populations. The self-reported races and ethnicities for the 2023 cohort were 32% Hispanic or Latino, 23% Asian, 20% Black, 20% White, 3% Middle Eastern or North African, and 2% Indigenous.
A successful summer
The 2023 in-person and Virtual Research Program students all engaged in centralized, online orientation sessions, which focused on laboratory and personal safety training, career exploration, and professional development. The online training program was developed and deployed by ACS staff in collaboration with partnerships with industries and institutions from across the US. New features added to this year’s offerings included a mental health and wellness webinar run by a renowned social science expert. ACS staff also enhanced the pre- and postexperience student evaluations to focus on career and science identity formation. These evaluations will help gauge student development as well as areas of programmatic excellence and changes needed to ensure the sustainability and scalability of the Project SEED program.
For the first time in 55 years, ACS conducted background checks for all Project SEED coordinators and mentors. These volunteers also signed an agreement to abide by the ACS Code of Conduct, which outlines expected behavior from ACS volunteers and those participating in its meetings and other programs. ACS staff discussed this code of conduct with students during their orientation. These measures help ensure the safety of students and volunteers within the Project SEED program.
This year, all in-person and Virtual Research Program students were encouraged to write research reports and attend ACS Fall 2023 in San Francisco. At the meeting, 42 Project SEED students participated in a poster session.
Supporting alumni and thanking volunteers
The Project SEED program endeavors to provide ongoing support to its students even after they have completed high school. The success of Project SEED alumni offers great encouragement to the program’s current students. For the 2023–24 academic year, the ACS Committee on Project SEED awarded 1-year scholarships to 49 program alumni to attend college. We also awarded scholarships to 25 students from three renewable scholarship funds supported by Project SEED, the Ciba Specialty Chemicals Foundation, and the Joseph D Loconti Foundation. Students can renew this type of scholarship each year over the course of pursuing their degrees. The anticipated total scholarship funding for this cohort of recipients is $360,000. The Committee on Project SEED and the participating students deeply appreciate the generosity of the donors associated with these scholarships.
The coordinators and mentors who support Project SEED students and alumni are the foundation of the program’s success. This year, 70 coordinators and almost 400 mentors from 109 institutions in 32 US states made the program possible. The committee is keen to celebrate and acknowledge this service. Gerard Parkin, a professor of chemistry from Columbia University, and Jingsong Zhang, a professor of chemistry from the University of California, Riverside, received the 2022 Outstanding Project SEED Mentor Awards. The committee also recognizes the efforts of Project SEED sites of varied sizes through its ChemLuminary Awards for Outstanding Efforts by a Local Section to Organize a Project SEED Program. In 2023, the California and Midland local sections received this accolade.
The Committee on Project SEED continues its dedication toward advancing the program’s objectives and has been approved to conduct a strategic planning retreat in 2024. We strongly encourage you to consider beginning a new Project SEED program or expanding your current Project SEED offering. To apply and learn more about hosting a program, visit cenm.ag/seed-summer-2024. Applications for in-person and virtual project proposals for summer 2024 are open from Dec. 1, 2023, to Feb. 9, 2024. If you have questions or suggestions related to this program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.