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Sources: Melissa Bruce, 785-532-6374, melbruce@k-state.edu;
Brandon Clark, 785-532-6497, bclark@k-state.edu;
Michael Munoz, 785-532-6374, mmubms@k-state.edu;
and Christopher Sorensen, 785-532-1626, sor@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Megan Molitor, 785-532-3452, molitor@k-state.edu

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

UPWARD BOUND: HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ASSIST WITH K-STATE RESEARCH

MANHATTAN -- Two Kansas high school students are spending their summer exploring the fields of natural sciences with the help of the American Chemical Society and Kansas State University.

Sahara Keith, a senior at Highland Park High School in Topeka, and Dakie Washington, a senior at Manhattan High School, have been selected by the American Chemical Society's Summer Experiences for the Economically Disadvantaged -- or SEED -- program to study chemical research.

The program provides $2,500 fellowships to economically disadvantaged students to participate in summer research at an academic, government or industrial laboratory. The students were nominated for the program because of their involvement in Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math/Science, federally funded educational enhancement programs for economically and educationally disadvantaged high school students.

Pharamond Guice, Upward Bound student services coordinator at K-State, said both Keith and Washington will work under the direction of Christopher Sorensen, a university distinguished professor of physics who is investigating solubilities of nanoparticle solutions.

"An important feature of the SEED program is its emphasis on career development and its motivation of students to pursue higher education in the natural sciences," Guice said.

Guice said Sorensen has served as a mentor for Project SEED students for several years. Although the American Chemical Society provides no monetary compensation for the researchers who work with students in the program, Sorensen said he feels the program is worth the extra effort.

"I have a passion for science and a passion for doing science," Sorensen said. "Project SEED gives me the opportunity to pass those passions on to young people at a formative age. Learning science is done in the classroom, but actually doing science is a rare opportunity. Doing science requires cleverness, creativity, tenacity and self-reliance; these are the assets I try to teach my SEED students. All this, and I simply like the kids."

Keith was nominated to participate in research with Project SEED by Michael Munoz, the academic service coordinator for the Upward Bound Math/Science Program at Highland Park High School. Washington was nominated for the program by Brandon Clark, the academic services coordinator for the Upward Bound Program at Manhattan High School.