JCJC students participate in NSF’s “Partnerships for Innovation Project” at USM

Written By: Giselle Marks - Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2011-10-28 17:08:12

ELLISVILLE – Five Jones County Junior College students will be participating in a year-long project at the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Polymers and High Performance Materials. Daniel Anderson, a pre-Engineering major, from Beaumont; Callissa Eager, a pre-Chemistry major, from Ellisville; David Hammons, a pre-Pharmacy major, from Raleigh; Austin Lott, a General Studies major, from Seminary; and Forrest Smith, a pre-Polymer Science major, from Laurel, hope to be as successful as JCJC students, Andrew Adams, a pre-Polymer Science major from Ellisville; Grace Anderson, a pre-Biological Sciences major from Kokomo; Tyler Byrd, a General Studies major, from Petal; Sotoyia Fairley, a pre-Medical Sciences major, from Hattiesburg; and Blane Graham, a pre-Chemistry major, from Sandersville, who just completed their year of study. 
Adams and Byrd presented posters on their research topics at the Las Vegas national meeting of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists over the summer and both students are now enrolled full-time in the polymer science program at USM, and are employed as undergraduate research assistants in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Lochhead, a Professor of Polymer Science, and Director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at USM.
Adams said of the project experience, “I knew it would be a great experience learning how research is done in the polymer science field. While preparing for the poster presentation, I learned how to properly gather experimental data and turn that into conclusions that applied to the subject at hand. One aspect of the conference that I learned a great deal from was the critique from other scientists in the field that I was working in. This allowed me to learn how to better prepare for future poster presentations, and what information peers are looking for when an idea is presented. Overall, it was a very positive experience that I am sure I will benefit from in the future.”
This project confirmed Byrd’s choice of study. “I'm so thankful for the experience with the National Science Foundation. When I enrolled in organic chemistry last fall, my awareness of polymers was limited to paints and plastics. Taking the introductory polymer science courses PSC 191 and PSC 192, along with the invaluable experience of performing research under the guidance of Dr. Giselle Marks, fostered my interest in materials science and helped me decide to pursue a bachelor's degree in polymer science at the University of Southern Mississippi. Attending the seminar of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists in Las Vegas was an enlightening experience I will never forget. Not only was I able to visit and explore a new city—thanks to support from NSF and the SCC—but more importantly I was able to glimpse the many directions I can pursue in research after graduation and acknowledge that I'm on the right academic path.”
The goal of the National Science Foundation funded project is to foster scientific innovation in the field of formulations, by developing partnerships between academia and industry, in order to benefit the state economy, and promote its competitive advantage in the global marketplace. One of the cornerstones of the project is to recruit and educate the future formulation science workforce.
The JCJC students received a stipend of $2000 per semester for their participation. They were dual enrolled at USM, and attended two introductory polymer science courses, in which they learned about the history of some important polymers, the main classes of polymers, their applications in everyday life, important chemical and physical properties of polymers, and how to write and present a review of patent and scientific publications concerning a selected topic in polymer applications. They were introduced to different areas of current research in the field of polymers by Dr. Robert Lochhead and several other leading USM polymer science research professors.
In addition, the students attended a special class, Introduction to Formulation, instructed by Dr. Lochhead, and Dr. Giselle Marks, chemistry instructor at JCJC. The main topics of this class, which included lecture and laboratory components, were selected physical methods for polymer testing, and the theory and practical application of polymer solubility in the formulation of new polymer products.
The JCJC students also attended several polymer science seminars at USM giving them insight into some of the latest national and international polymer science research topics while introducing them to an important aspect of research, the presentation of scientific work.
The skills that the students acquired during their participation in the NSF project equipped them to carry out a research project for a well-known cosmetic company in Dr. Lochhead’s laboratory. The results of this research have already been put to use in the company’s new product formulation project, and it is likely that a patent application will be submitted, based on a discovery made during the course of the students’ work.
“We are very excited to embark on this partnership” said Lochhead. “The National Science Foundation funding will enable us to establish a sustainable industry/university partnership that will create new, high tech jobs in Mississippi.”


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