Friday, August 19, 2016

[035] MTSU Project SEED students’ research progress ‘great’

MURFREESBORO — MTSU Project SEED students Helene Hamo and Edgar Lozano made successful progress in research efforts this summer.

The respective Stewarts Creek High School and Central Magnet School seniors worked in the program under the guidance of MTSU Department of Chemistry chair Greg Van Patten and graduate and undergraduate students.

To view video about the students’ work in a Science Building laboratory, visit

Project SEED (Summer Education Experience for the Economically Disadvantaged) is a summer research program opening new doors, giving rising high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to work with scientist-mentors on research projects in industrial, academic and federal laboratories.

The American Chemical Society and National Science Foundation sponsor the program.

“They’ve made really great progress,” said Van Patten. “They’ve been taking semiconductor quantum dots that are known and have certain kinds of interesting properties and trying to change those properties by introducing new materials into them through a new kind of chemical reaction, (called) a cation.”

Cations are atoms that have lost electrons.

Van Patten said it had been known for some time cadmium could be exchanged with silver in tiny quantities and expensive reagents “and these guys (Hamo and Lozano) found a way to scale that up to large quantities with cheap reagents.”

The pair, who each received a $2,500 fellowship, finished their two-month research endeavor Aug. 4. In addition to Van Patten, mentors assisting them included chemistry graduate students Alex Morris and Ryan Tilluck and senior biochemistry major Ron Higdon.

Lozano, 16, called it a fun experience where they enjoyed doing new things.

“We’ve learned a lot about safety in the lab,” Lozano said. “Then we also learned how to keep up with lab notebooks to keep our research, to keep a current record of everything we do.”

For Hamo, 17, it “has been a really unique experience and I’ve learned a lot,” she said.

“I’ve had really great people teaching me in the beginning and then we were kind of led off on our own,” Hamo added. “This is definitely like a much bigger scale than it is in high school. And I’ve learned lots of new terms and lots of new things.”

To learn about Project SEED opportunities for 2017, call Van Patten at 615-898-2956 or email

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