Gateways to Science
Faculty at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering are bringing science to students of all ages.
This summer, four undergraduate students took part in a research internship at JSNN that allowed them to collaborate with faculty and graduate students.
Coordinated by Nanoscience Chair Dr. Daniel Herr, the first-year program is funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), which does strategic research for the electronics industry and is a recipient of the National Medal for Technology. Through its Education Alliance, SRC annually supports graduate-student research worldwide, but this is one of its first programs for undergrads.
The four students — two from UNCG (physics and biology majors) and one each from N.C. A&T State University (engineering) and Elon University (biology) — spent 10 weeks getting hands-on experience in nanoscience and nanoengineering fields and with the sophisticated instruments used for research at JSNN. The $20,000 grant covered a $4,000 stipend for each student and other expenses for graduate student mentors. Herr believes that SRC will renew — and expand — the grant next year.
This summer, the students worked in their fields and were expected to prepare a poster presentation or a paper by the end of their internships. Depending on the judging, SRC plans to invite one or more to participate in TECHCON, the company’s premier event, which draws top graduate students to Austin, Texas, to present their work. Plans are to continue engagement with these students through group events and meetings throughout the 2013-14 academic year.
“The experience was positive all around for the students and the faculty,” said Herr.
In April, faculty and graduate students spent time with a younger crowd. More than 250 Guilford County students in grades 3 through 12 came to the JSNN to get their first look at what scientists do.
Called “Gateway to Science,” the event introduced the students to nanoscale science with live demonstrations and tours of the JSNN, along with presentations from the Greensboro Science Center and a video which featured scientists from all over the world. JSNN faculty and students gave their time alongside volunteers from the Women’s Professional Forum to share the joy of research and to show students how they might one day become scientists too.
Gateway to Science was part of the North Carolina Science Festival. With ongoing events around the state, the festival encourages children to pursue science-related careers and businesses to invest in North Carolina by highlighting the educational, cultural and financial impact that science has in our state.
Dr. Marinella Sandros, a UNCG assistant professor of nanoscience, coordinated JSNN’s involvement. Sandros sees the need to make science accessible to children early on, especially young girls. She also believes this will help young students carry science interest into adulthood by exposing them to careers in the fields of science and technology. With sponsorship from the Women’s Professional Forum, the JSNN, and the Girls in Science and Technology (GIST) Project, Sandros is responding to those needs in a big way.
“Science has no boundaries; it is your passport to the world,” said Sandros.