NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s 15th annual Chemistry Day drew a positive reaction from area high school students.
Held in the Alger V. Boswell Science Complex on April 12, Chemistry Day also included a career fair where graduates met with potential employers and interacted with graduate program representatives.
The daylong program, including a guest lecturer, was organized by the Department of Chemistry in the College of Life and Physical Sciences, in collaboration with the TSU Chemistry Graduate Student Association.
It gave graduate students the opportunity to showcase their research in poster presentations, while visiting high school students – mainly from Nashville’s Hillsboro High School this year – toured the various labs, participated in chemistry demonstrations, and a game of “chemistry Challenge.”
“Chemistry Day is part of our recruitment effort, which also helps us to showcase our programs, and gives students an opportunity to meet potential employers,” said Dr. Mohammad R. Karim, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “We also include high school students for them to see what we have and that we exist. In high school they may learn about chemistry, but they do not know what the details are.”
Mohammad said bringing in high school students “for early exposure” also helps to dispel the myth that chemists can only work in certain places.
“We want them to know early on that there is an array of different areas for careers and work for people with chemistry backgrounds,” he said.
Mollie Summers, a 10th-grader from Hillsboro High School, said she wants to become a neurosurgeon, but knows very little about what becoming a surgeon entails. She said listening to TSU professors and seeing the different demonstrations in the labs gave her a better understanding of the importance of chemistry in her future endeavor.
“I know the basics of chemistry, like atomic numbers, stuff we talk about in the chemistry class at school, but touring these labs has opened my eyes to a whole different world,” Summers said.
Representatives from 11 companies and organizations set up booths in the Boswell Science Complex lobby to talk to students about internship and job opportunities.
Kara Allen is manager of Recruitment and University Relations at Aegis Science Corporation. This was her sixth year attending Chemistry Day. Over the years, her company has hired “a lot of graduates” of the TSU chemistry program.
“We are here to talk about positions that are open,” said Allen. “TSU has a great chemistry program. We hire a lot of your undergraduate and graduate students. For the high school kids, we want to get them interested in our careers and sciences early through internship programs.”
At this year’s Chemistry Day, more than 15 research projects presented in posters were on display, dealing with topics from cancer research to compounds found in industrial petrochemicals, and effective drug delivery system in the treatment of HIV-associated neurological disorders.
Nafisa Hamza, of Nashville, who graduates in May, was one of the research presenters. Her topic was: “Signaling Pathways Involved in Tributyltin-Induced Increases in Interleukin 6 Production by Lymphocytes.”
She said her research, which could lead to treatment for cancer, is trying to understand the effect of the organic compound Tributylin on the human immune cells.
“The current study aims to determine whether TBT utilizes MAPK signaling pathways (ERK 1/2, p38) to cause alterations in IL-6 production,” Hamza said.
Dr. Renã A.S. Robin, a chemistry professor at Vanderbilt University, was this year’s Chemistry Day guest lecturer. Her research focus is in the study of the aging process and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
For more information on TSU’s chemistry program, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/chemistry/.
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