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Department of Chemistry Wraps Successful Summer Research Season

August 18, 2022

Raiden Hunter, a C-SURF participant, works on a project at Idaho State University.
Raiden Hunter, a C-SURF participant, works on a project at Idaho State University.

Another summer of student research is in the books for the Idaho State University Department of Chemistry. The end of July marked the close of two of the department’s ongoing summer research programs for undergraduate and high school students.

Undergraduate students participated through the Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (C-SURF). Meanwhile, the Department of Chemistry served as a host for the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED Program for high school students. 

“The C-SURF And Project SEED programs give students a real-world research experience that closely mirrors the type of work they’ll be doing in their career,” said Josh Pak, professor and chair of the chemistry department. 

Over the summer months, the roughly 40 budding researchers were looking into the development of ionic liquids for recovering rare earth elements from electronic waste, studying extremophiles living in the Great Salt Lake, developing ways to upcycle polymers commonly used in household plastics, and more.  

“I enjoyed being a part of the C-SURF program because it allowed me the opportunity to continue to do the same research that I have been doing during the school year,” said Raiden Hunter, a chemistry major from San Diego, California and running back for the Bengal football team. “The amount of time required allowed me to have a very flexible schedule, which was great since I was able to use the extra time I had to shadow physicians and also juggle my athletic requirements. Working with a Project SEED student was especially interesting since I was in a position to mentor a younger student of color who’s also headed into a STEM field.”

Lillian Ashbocker, a Project SEED participant, works on a project at Idaho State University.
Lillian Ashbocker, a Project SEED participant, works on a project at Idaho State University.

“I enjoyed being a part of Project SEED because it provided me with a new experience and knowledge,” said Lillian Ashbocker, a senior at Pocatello High School. “Working in this program taught me a lot about how things work in a lab which has been my dream for a long time, and my experience will also help me in the future.”

To put a capstone on the C-SURF and Project SEED programs, the students’ findings are spotlighted at the department’s Summer Research Symposium. At the symposium, students presented a poster with their research results. The event gives students valuable experience in communicating their findings to other scientists and community members.

“The Department of Chemistry has been providing undergraduate and high school students with paid research opportunities for many years and I am excited that we are back in-person to continue the tradition,” Pak said. “We take great pride in giving these students hands-on experiences early in their scientific careers.”


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