Friday, August 21, 2009

D.C. is amazing

Recently returned from D.C. which is by far the most beautiful city that i have been in my far...The city was clean...i am not exaggerating. I had to look for trash and cigarette buds and all i found was a piece of gum. All the buildings looked new and the people i met were nice. The ACS meeting was fun. We were able to see other project seed members and interact with people who are in the science field. One thing i noticed, i was able to hold my own in a convesation with someone who has been studying for years. Also, to say how diverse D.C. is, we ate at 2 American restuarants the entire time we where there. I would talk about sushi, but that is a whole other story. The expo was also really cool. There was a lot a swag and i got a really cool NASA calendar. What a nerd. Overall this was a great experience and i am glad that i did it. Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ACS Convention with the Project SEED students.

Suffice it to say, we had a great time. I'll let Candy and James describe it for you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Here I Sit In The Good Old Computer Lab...

Friday evening, I'm sitting in the computer lab. I still have to return my key for the year, and go visit some offices. I finally finished this paper that I've been stressing over for the past two weeks. I always worked better under stress anyway. I figure that I'm about to post the last post for this year of SEED. Everyone from the group has already left the building. When I first applied for this thing, I had no idea what I was getting into. Some high school girl from some podunk town where nothing happens, except for the occasional robbery. I wrote emails to all my mentors, and anyone important, for that matter. Leaving here feels like I'm giving back everything I did this summer. All the hard work, the sweat, the blood... okay, maybe not the blood. I never imagined I'd actually be doing this. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be working with machines over one million dollars in my junior year of high school. I can't believe I almost didn't do this! This helped me advance a bunch of my skills, also. Mr. Lucas always told me, "Talk! Ask questions! That's how you get oppurtunities!" So I talked, sometimes, and I did make a new friend. We had a bunch of laughs, but we had our serious times too. There is time for work, and there is time for play. We knew the difference. I made a new friend, who is an incredible kid. I hope we get some new kids in next year too! Last year, I didn't have a thought about college. It was the farthest thing from my mind. I was much more worried about the next dance, and the boy next door. This program definitely taught me that the time to plan for your future is now! When I tell kids that I put myself up to 8 weeks of summer research at a college, I always get a funny look. Even after I tell them I was paid $10 an hour, they still think I'm insane. I know that this is going to make my future an incredibly bright one. Having this experience will change my life, I know it. I can feel it. My professor was amazing, and I had a ball. The last thing I have to do is return my key. But that's okay, because I know I'll be getting it back next year.

Final Moments

Well, it finally came. It really only felt like yesterday when I first arrived here scared of what I'm getting myself into. Not knowing who these other kids were, or whether or not I'm even cut out for this. Well, my questions were quickly answered. I made 8 new friends from Sto-Rox and can't wait to see them again. At first I felt my project was too difficult but things became much easier and soon I was handling things on my own. I even accomplished what I wanted to do in detecting picomolar amines. These 8 weeks were fun and trying the same time with presentations, and lab reports it was very stressful at times. But we all persevered through and I can't wait until next summer. These fun times in and out the lab have given me great memories that will certainly last much longer than $2800.

Farewell Project SEED

Well the day has finally's the last day of Project SEED. There's so much that I could say about my entire experience but, i'm going to make it short and sweet. This program has done so much to better me as a high school student and an all around person. Throughout the summer, i've learned, i've laughed, I've made new friends, added on to previous friendships and at one point I completely stressed myself out to no end. I've learned to be patient with what i'm doing and to be patient with other people. Time is such a precious thing no matter what it's dealing with. I've learned how to take responsibility for myself and for others. Responsibility is a big deal whether one knows it or not. I know for a fact that I will be able to take my newly found knowledge in Project SEED and apply it to the classroom. I'm very appreciative for being given this oppurtunity. I thank all the people that made this program possible and for all of the people who helped me make it through. Farewell Project SEED and I hope to be back again!

Goodbye for now untill we meet again...

Today is my last day here at Duquesne for the summer and I had a blast. It kept me busy because I learned and I laughed, all in the process of becoming a great success. SEED bettered me as a person and thought me thing that I could not only use in everyday life but things I can also take into the class room. I want to say thank you to all who help my summer be the most it could be and goodbye until we meet again...!

Our Summer Wraps Up

Our Project SEED students would love to be writing this last blog entry, but as you can imagine, they are busy wrapping up their projects, so I've been recruited.

I've been involved in Duquesne's summer programs for three years now, and I have been sending my brightest science minded students to Dr. Aitken since Project SEED started here about 6 years ago. Over the years, I have seen the profound impact this experience has on the social and academic development of my students. These kids come from tough backgrounds and overcome terrible adversity. Project SEED provides them with unique opportunities to grow that we cannot replicate in our economically challenged high school. Each year I struggle (in a good way) to figure out which of my students to select, knowing that it is likely going to give them an advantage over their peers and open doors that leads to financial gains as they mature. It's a tough decision, but over the years, I've gotten good at finding the right combination of smarts, attitude, and personality. This summer's crop of students particularly excelled. They have shown sincere interest and concern and have worked long hours above and beyond the call of duty. Their mastery of the material has been impressive and has lead to rich and engaging group meetings. I'm proud of each of them for how far they've come in such a short period of time, and I look forward to seeing continued growth if they return next summer.

I'd also like to thank everyone who makes this possible. Without the support of the ACS, our generous corporate donors, the professors and staff of Duquesne's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Dr. Aitken, a dozen or so of my students would have had very different futures.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Getting to know my professor

The end is near

Wow. Where has the summer gone? Now that it's the last week of work, time is going so much slower. Since I have no more results to add to my project, i'm just working on my final paper which isn't too bad. Once I got it started, it wasn't too hard to do. The six of us are finishing up or projects, getting final results and writing these papers. I think that we are all really close now. We got to know each other throughout the summer and we even made a new friend! This is going to be an emotional week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Symposium Success!

On Friday, I attended the annual URP symposium. Leading up to the big day, not just myself but all the project seed members were nervous. My biggest fear was that I forgot important things or that I didn't explained things to the best of my ability to people so that they would have a better understanding of my project. Overall, I feel that I did a pretty good job explaining myself and it definitely got better by each person that came by. The highlight of my day was when Mr. Moss my high school Chemistry teacher at Carrick came by to see how I was doing. He seemed very impressed with my work and proud with that one of his students is doing something as cool as this in the summer. There's only two weeks left and now the big project is the lab report we have to write at the end of the program. Better get started now!


So, Friday was quite an experience. After all the stress I put myself through, the symposium was nothing. I talked to a lot of people and I realized that I really knew what I was talking about. Having my poster there to use as a reference helped me but once I got through the first few people, I felt more confident in what I was talking about. Once Friday came around, I was pretty nervous. As the day went on, I felt so much better. Before I knew it, the hour was just about over and it was time for me to head back to band camp. All in all, it was a great experience. People that I didn't know were challenging me about my newly found knowledge and I feel as if I succeeded.


Friday was an experience I will never forget, I talked to people from hours away who came to take a look at our research....I talked to multiple people who showed great interest in what I was studying....some of which were studying the same thing!!!
It was a great experience not only did I present, I was also presented with a few questions I really did know, which in turn built up my ambition to find out and learn more...!
P.S. Looking forward to future research!!!

URP Symposium

Finally, all the hard work is rewarded! Friday I came to Duquesne and presented my poster at the Undergraduate Research Program Symposium. First, the group went to watch some undergrads present their posters to a room full of people. Most of the presentations were really interesting, and I understood what they worked on this summer. Those students really knew their stuff! Later on, Naudia (the undergrad I'm working with) and I stood by our poster for about an hour, while people walked around and asked questions about it. Many people seemed to be interested in our poster, particularly. Even after I left, I still had people chasing me and asking me questions! For the most part, it was pretty simple. I only had one tough cookie, as far as questions and remarks go, but after she found out I was in high school, she was really surprised. The symposium revealed to me that I truly am doing college work. SEED is really opening doors for me, and I'm starting to really see that. I believe I'm going to have a future compiled of hard work and success. Speaking of hard work, my last two weeks here are going to be filled with paper writing and presentation making... Better get to work!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Symposium Poster=Insane!

This symposium poster has given me quite a headache this week. I really want it to be exceptional. It's a little hard not having my professor here to help me, but fortunately I do have Darlene. I'm pretty nervous for this symposium. I know I should do some extra research in order to prepare myself for questions that are bound to come next Friday. I'm also excited because i've never done anything like this before and it sure is going to be a new experience. After today, only 3 weeks left of SEED. Where has the summer gone?!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Former SEED Members...

Interviews with former SEED students...

Tristan Stagger-

Q:What high school did you attend?
A: Central Cathloic

Q:What made you apply to Project SEED?
A:My chemistry teacher saw potential in me, I was finacially disable to do most of what I wanted, and the thought of actually working with chemicals and beakers sounded really interesting.

Q:How have you used your SEED experience to your advantage?
A:It gave me the opportunity to work in the lab, and it gave me the amazing opportunity to take my basic chemistry knowledge to a college level.

Q:How has SEED helped you in other skills not chemistry related?
A:SEED showed me better ways to be more organized and it basically taught me how to present on a more professional level.

Q:If you could change one thing in your past, as far as high school and Project SEED, would you?
A:No, I don't live in regret because if I lived with regrets I wouldn't be living.

Q:If you could give any advice to the SEED members today what advice would you give them?
A:Tell you friends!!! It's a great opportunity and I think everyone should take advantage of it & never forget where you came from.

Tristan Stagger: "I would like to send my greatest thank you to Dr. Jennifer Aitken and Johnathan Lekse"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Presenting To The Group...

Today, I presented my powerpoint to the whole group! I was so nervous about not having it done, or not knowing what to say. After it was over with, I felt so confident about my work. I got through it and didn't stumble on many things. Unbelievable. It made me feel good that I know why I'm doing this project. About a week ago I was ready to quit. I was so tired, frustrated, and stressed out. I couldn't take it anymore. My whole family kept telling me, "It's okay if you quit. If it's too hard, you don't have to do it if you don't want to." I knew I wanted to do it. This is something I've kept my eye on since freshman year. I know it's something that's going to change my future for the better, which is why I decided to stick with it. Posters for the symposium have to be done by Friday. What am I going to do?? That's three days to construct a poster. And I thought I was stressed last week?! 3 weeks, 3 days left of SEED. Wow, summer's almost over.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Challenge #2: Interviews

So, I decided to take on another challenge. I interviewed Dr. H.M. “Skip” Kingston and Dr. Mitch Johnson.

Dr. Kingston grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He went to a high school called Central Dolphin, in the suburbs of Harrisburg. He said that high school was very difficult because in 11th grade, he was diagnosed with acute dyslexia. He told me that he always knew he wanted to go in to the chemistry field, but he said his first professor was a great influence on his career. After he took analytical chemistry, when going for his bachelor’s degree, he fell in love with the subject. Dr. Kingston said that undergrad school was fun, and challenging. He went to the military, Harrisburg Community College, Millersville, and attended IUP to be his grandmother’s nurse while finishing his master’s and bachelor’s. He said that grad school was even better, and he mentioned that he was a dual major. He earned 2 PhDs, in Analytical and Biological Chemistry and Environmental Science and Management. He believes that he succeeded purely because he loves what he does. His wife diagnosed him with ‘terminal curiosity.’ He said that a successful scientist is willing to put in hard work, must have discipline, and the desire to seek answers. When I asked him about regrets, he told me he regretted something that wasn’t really under his control. He said he regretted not being diagnosed with dyslexia sooner, because he thinks that it would’ve helped him in high school. He told me that he needed to know why he was different, and being diagnosed helped him cope. He said that his biggest accomplishment was getting the Radon Laws to be passed. He worked on it for 18 months before they were passed by Congress. Apparently, they save 45,000 people from bronchial cancer every year. Finally, I asked him what his biggest personal reward he got out of his career and he said, “Watching my students succeed.”

Dr. Johnson was raised in Racing, Wisconsin. He attended Racing Lutheran High School. He said that high school was alright and that he had some decent teachers. Dr. Johnson told me that he went to school for architectural drafting, but it wasn’t what he was expecting, so he changed his major to something he had more of a knack for. Undergrad school, he said, was fun, considering he went to the University of Miami. He told me that grad school was purely chemistry and close related things. He said that he made a bunch of close friends, and that everything got harder as he moved on. I asked him about success and he said, “It depends on what you mean by success. Money doesn’t always mean you’re successful.” He thinks he succeeded because he is willing to do the hard work. He believes that a career should be something you stick with, something you’re going to do for your life, not just something to do for money. “You have to ask yourself, are you truly happy doing this?” I asked Dr. Johnson what his biggest regret, and he told me, “No regrets. None at all. You make your choices and you have to live with them.” When I asked Mitch what his biggest accomplishment, it tied in with his biggest personal goal. He said that when he mentors grad students, and watches them grow as they learn, it’s very satisfying. “It’s nice to see the difference that you’ve made in these kids.”

When interviewing these professors, they both said success results from some related things; hard work, discipline, passion, commitment, dedication, and a good work ethic. It’s so cliché, but it’s something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. They also had some of the same personal satisfactions. They both said that they love to watch their students succeed. I think that is a great quality for a professor, or any teacher for that matter, to have. Knowing a teacher cares about you and your future is an incredible thought. Duquesne is pretty amazing, and their professors are too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

~Fab in the Lab~

As we SEED students blog about the many great opportunities and things we experience everyday, it still may be slightly difficult for you to really envision what we do. What better way for you to see what we do than a picture...? After all a picture is worth a THOUSAND WORDS!!!

Amanda R. Anderson doing what she does best working hard...or hardly working!

Candice L. Thornton paying CLOSE attention to what she is doing...!

Tristan Freeman master of the pipette!


Why do the camera people have to have such bad timing?... They always come on one of the rare times that I am not doing anything. Like when I am waiting on a reaction or running a column. It is ridiculous. All this practice, I think I might become a underwear model... On another note, all I need are pictures for my powerpoint and it will be ready to be presented twice, because my mentor volunteered me to present it at our group meeting... woopty doo.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My First presentation for Project SEED

My first time presenting for Project SEED wasn't that bad. I was extremely nervous at first. Knowing that I was presenting my new found knowledge of my project in front of my fellow SEED students and professors, made me even more nervous. Looking through my presentation, I saw that I have already learned and done so much and made a big accomplishment. At the end of our group meeting, I think that Terrance, Becky and myself did very well on our presentations. Good job to Terrance and Becky for doing great presentations!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Next Blog Contest

To keep the blog moving and full of quality content, periodically we are going to have small blog challenges for rewards. Our first challenge was to determine which SEED student would be the first to post pictures of their labs. Amanda won and received some sweet Duquesne University swag.

The next challenge is a little more difficult, so the reward will be a little better. The first student to interview two professors and post a summary of their responses will win. Dr. Aiken cannot be one of the professors. Your objective is to determine the path they took to get to a professorship at Duquesne. Include their whole story. Ask them about their high school experience, undergrad, and grad school. Ask them why they succeeded as a professional scientist, while others do not. Ask them what their biggest regret is. Ask them what their biggest accomplishment is. You get the idea. Be thorough and creative with your questioning. The best interview wins if more than one of you participates.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Pet Cells!!

I finally got my pet cells!! As Mr. Lucas likes to call them and they're pretty sweet. Yesterday, I had to plate my cells. That means that I took one dish of BT 474 cells which are human cells and one dish of MMC cells which are mice cells and I seperated them into eight 35mm dishes. Today, I took all 16 of the 35mm dishes and I treated 14 with a different compound. The 2 that I had left over received no treatment. I also ran a protein assay on the cells today which unfortunately didn't turn out so great. I'm going to have to run the Protein assay again next week. So far, i'm having a great time and i'm learning so much!

Great job Candy and Mr. Lucas!

The other day two of the project seed students had to present what they are doing this summer in a project seed meeting. Almost every week some of us will have to do a small powerpoint presentation on thier respective project. Mr. Lucas did a great job on his and really explained to us the point of his project in a way we could understand even though we don't. But I was really impressed by Candy's performance. Espeacially doing it on short notice and only having a week to get familiar with her subject. I don't know if I could do it but she pulled it off great and I'm real proud of her. Now the rest of us have raise the bar higher to compete with her.


Dr. Aitken Learns how to Blog

So, I am going to learn how to Blog this summer! Fun! Fun! Fun!

Online Calendar

Hey gang, here is a link to our online calender. You can use your login and password for the blog to view and edit it. Please check it frequently for changes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

last week I used a UV-Vis machine to measure light absorbence in copper solutions. When I began doing this I didn't really see how it connected to my progect but after many long nights spent reading I discovered the numerous uses for UV machines, one of which being the ability to measure the rate of reaction. Today I did my first set of "real" kinetics ( I ran kinetics on the actual solution I'll be using in my project)!!! I was so excited... Then I got extremely nervous; it had only been a week, was I really ready? But Marielle (my awesome mentor) just gave me the measurements and said do what you did all last week. Ended up being much simpler, and now I'm really happy that we started working on the "real" kinetics right away because that means I'll have plenty of time and practice so that when the symposium comes around I'll be confident in my results.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Starting Off Slowly and Working My Way Up

For my project in the Project SEED program, I am working with inhibitors of Breast Cancer Proliferation. Truthfully, i'm still yet to figure out what exactly that is. So far this week, i've managed to successfully learn how to do a Protein Assay, which tells you how much protein is in a cell. Recently, I did one with MMC cells, which are mice cells, and BT474 cells, which are human cells. Tomorrow, I will receive 2 plates of my own cells to feed and take care of. Tonight, I have plenty of reading to go through. Yes, I understand about 10% of the information I've been given. No, I'm not going to just give up on it. I'm highly interested in how my project will turn out and I'm very excited to see what I learn at the end of this summer.

Life is like a box of enzymes

I am working with an enzynme that is required for humans to live. It is a Molybdenum (Mo) enzyme and without it humans cannot sustain life for more than a year. A genetic disease causes the lack of the production and it is rare, so the market for a cure is very low. Hopefully, my work can help lead to new discoveries and eventually there will be a way to if not cure, then prevent future occurences.

Hey! my project is completely foreign to me but as the week has progressed I've started to figure it out. Apparently ATRA (atom transfer radical addition) is a new type of chemical reaction and my lab is working on refining it. I'm really excited to learn more about the whole process. Everyone in my lab is really cool, and nice, and really smart. I'm really excited for this summer and i can't wait to show all my work off at the symposium.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Tubing is great.... Who knew working with very dangerous materials and equipment could result in a pumping adrenaline and raging urge to learn more...! Things started slow but once I really entered the lab I believe I became addicted to the Chem Life...!

Looking Forward to An Amazing Oppurtunity Filled Summer,

Terrance Austin

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting To Know the Subject

The project I'm working on is the Development of Standard Methods for Phospholipids analysis. I probably only know two of those words. What I know now is how the HPLC works (High-Performance Liquid Chromatograhy). It's actually a pretty cool machine to use and I get to use it a lot. Hopefully by the end of the summer I can become an expert on the subject.

Blog Info


This blog will be authored by the participants of Duquesne University's Project SEED. Here we will document our experiences, accomplishments, and challenges this summer.

The American Chemical Society's Project SEED is a program designed to give economically disadvantaged high school students the opportunity to do cutting edge scientific research for eight weeks during the summer. This year Duquesne University's chemistry and pharmacy departments are hosting six bright students from Carrick and Sto-Rox High School. Thier topics of study will range from the synthesis of semiconductor compounds, to the analysis of chromium in dietary supplements. For their efforts, they will each recieve a $2800 stipend. Students who excel during the program will have the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to present at the American Chemical Society's national conference.

Welcome SEED Members...

Project SEED students of year "09" will be able to blog their thought, comments, concerns, and accomplishments! We will keep you posted on our projects and what we will be working on throughout the summer. Feel free to help us create chemistry!

Edited: Mr. Josh Lucas, Sto-Rox High School, Chemistry Teacher.