UNO Ignites Ingenuity with Summer Outreach Programs by Advanced Materials Research Institute

Working in state-of-the-art laboratories alongside experienced scientists, young minds from the greater New Orleans area have been hard at work this summer learning to conduct research in sciences related to the study of advanced materials, nanoscience and nanotechnology, the study and application of extremely small things.

“During the summer program, the participants are learning how to conduct research and are conducting research on independent projects in chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, engineering, and/or materials science, as these fields relate to advanced materials, nanoscience, and nanotechnology,” said I.R. “Poncho” De Leon, assistant director of the University of New Orleans Advanced Materials Research Institute (UNO-AMRI).

Two summer outreach programs sponsored by the UNO-AMRI conclude Friday with formal presentations designed to show what participants accomplished during the summer, said De Leon.  Eleven awards from the National Science Foundation and Louisiana Board of Regents funded the intense, but fun, study programs. One is designed for undergraduate students; the other is designed for high school students.

The annual programs allow students an opportunity to participate in and observe applied materials research projects, said De Leon.  Participants attend weekly seminar programs designed to allow discussion of current scientific issues, general research concepts, and scientific ethics. Those who are high school teachers enjoy a seminar program designed to help them develop techniques for incorporating research concepts into secondary school classrooms and improve science teaching at the secondary level.

This year, the program included 30 participants -- 17 undergraduates, two high school teachers and 12 high school students, De Leon said. Fifteen UNO faculty members from UNO-AMRI and the University's biological sciences, chemistry, physics, psychology and computer sciences departments helped to develop and teach.

The program, like nearly all programs at UNO, allows forward-thinking students an opportunity to build relationships that will help them to get ahead in their studies and chosen fields.

At a meet-the-faculty pizza lunch, participants met professors and other researchers in an informal setting, said De Leon. The event “provides a vital mechanism for building relationships between the participants and faculty members. Such relationships provide key support to the program participants and dramatically strengthen their chances for success in scientific fields.”

On Friday, participants will present their work in the same fashion as science professionals, presenting their work in a poster session, slated for 10 a.m. on the first floor of the Science Building.

At the poster session, the program participants will present posters describing their projects and summarizing the results obtained.  A cook-out lunch will follow the poster session in Room 101 of the Chemical Sciences Building.