JCJC students present work at the National Science Foundation’s Annual Meeting

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2012-03-08 10:06:35

ELLISVILLE – Four Jones County Junior College students attended the annual meeting of the National Science Foundation’s Partnership for Innovation project (PFI) recently. Daniel Anderson, a pre-engineering major, from Beaumont; Callissa Eager, a pre-chemistry major, from Ellisville; Austin Lott, a general studies major, from Seminary; and Forrest Smith, a pre-polymer science major, from Laurel, have been participating in the program since the fall semester. The conference in New Orleans, LA, allowed Jones students the opportunity to present some of their work to the prestigious leaders in the field of polymer science. It also allowed them to see the research being done by other students and the Innovation Project has given them the chance to work in the lab.

 
“The best part of participating in the PFI so far has been the research experience,” said Daniel Anderson. “Throughout our exploration of polymer science, I think we have come to understand something about the research process and what it feels like to work as a researcher. I also feel that I have been given an exceptional opportunity that I would not have had otherwise. Being introduced to the scientific community fairly early in my academic career by participating in this program will help me choose and maintain a successful career in the future.”
 
The purpose of the NSF-funded project is to foster scientific innovation in the field of polymer formulations by developing partnerships between academia and industry. The ultimate goal is to provide a well-qualified workforce in this field to help attract investors to Mississippi. Industry wants to participate in this project partly because of the proximity to USM’s School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, which is one of the leading polymer science programs in the country.
 
JCJC chemistry instructor and co-Primary Investigator, Dr. Giselle Marks said she is delighted to have the opportunity to work on this project with some of her students because participation in the project allows students who are contemplating science careers to explore the science of polymers, mentored by some of the country’s best polymer scientists, and experts from industry, while staying close to home.
 
“Pre-polymer science majors can get a head start in their studies. Undecided majors have the opportunity to consider whether polymer science might be a good career option and students who have decided on a different major are able to take with them an understanding of the uses of polymers in their chosen field, providing them with a possible alternative career plan,” said Dr. Marks.  
 
This partnership allows JCJC students to be dually enrolled at USM, allowing the participating Jones students to successfully complete their first introductory polymer science course. Jones students said they were especially thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from Dr. Robert Lochhead, who is a USM professor of polymer science, the director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, and USM’s primary investigator for the PFI project. This semester, students are continuing with a new course teaching them how to conduct a literature survey on a current polymer science topic, write a review article and give a scientific oral presentation.
 
Callissa Eager appreciated getting experience in a field she is considering as a career. “I also was able to get a better understanding of what lab research is all about, like improvising and thinking on my feet.  I really enjoyed interacting with the graduate students and seeing their research.”
 
Jones students have also been learning methods for polymer testing with a focus on viscosity measurements and how these can be evaluated to provide information on the molecular level. This was the topic of presentation at the NSF conference, “Using Viscosity Measurements to Determine Intrinsic Viscosity and Critical Overlap Concentration of Selected Polyvinylpyrrolidones.” The students also recorded an instructional video to demonstrate the use of the Ubbelohde viscometer, for future students.
 
At the NSF conference, the students from Jones were able to hear presentations and lectures on research projects from USM professors, Dr. Sarah Morgan, Dr. Derek Patton, and Dr. Paige Buchanan. Partners from industry, Dr. Camille Sasik, (Aveda), Dr. Joseph Lichtenhan (Hybrid Plastics), Colleen Rocafort (BASF) and Chad Newell, president of the Area Development Partnership for Greater Hattiesburg also presented their perspectives on various aspects of PFI. Other attendees from industry Brian King (Eastman Chemical Company), Philippe Guarillof (Chanel) and James Giblin (Chanel) met with conference attendees.
 
JCJC student, Austin Lott said this partnership and attending the conference has been useful in expanding his knowledge of organic chemistry. “The part I found most interesting at the conference was Dr. Paige Buchanan’s presentation about her company’s development of a camouflage face paint that will also help protect our soldiers overseas from incendiary explosive devices.”
 
Dr. Marks also gave a presentation at the conference titled, “Encouraging Innovation at the Junior College Level”, which focused on the necessity for such projects. She explained these types of partnerships and projects help to recruit more science students. This conference is also a great forum for discussing the relation between global trends with the number of science students as observed at JCJC, according to Dr. Marks.

 

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