South Carolina State University students William Dumpson, left, and Alejandra Chirino, center, talk with Savannah River National Laboratory Director Dr. Terry Michalske at a recent research exchange involving the laboratory and seven historically black colleges and universities.
AIKEN, S.C. – Students and faculty from seven historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) recently convened a research exchange for the first time at Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL).
The 38 students and faculty members from the HBCUs in South Carolina and northeast Georgia joined the staff of EM’s national laboratory to share research in a poster session, tour the Savannah River Site and discuss internship opportunities.
Dr. Terry Michalske, the laboratory’s director, described the colleges and universities as outstanding and said discussions between the laboratory’s staff members and students were excellent.
“After today's event, I'm even more impressed by the quality of the students and the research being conducted. And I'm very optimistic about our future collaboration and partnerships with these institutions,” Michalske said.
For more than a decade, EM has partnered through grants with HBCUs on projects and programs. EM awarded nearly $9 million to nine HBCUs in 2010 and more than $8.2 million in each of the two subsequent years, 2011 and 2012. Seven of the nine HBCUs attended the laboratory’s research exchange.
The colleges and universities use these grants for scholarships and stipends, research, curriculum and training development and pre-college programs. The grants promote minority involvement in science and technology research fields and support EM’s mission to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics capabilities. The students connect their courses with DOE field and SRNL work, which contributes to addressing EM’s need for a pipeline of technically competent individuals in light of EM’s aging workforce.
South Carolina State University (SCSU), Claflin University, Benedict College, Voorhees College, Denmark Technical College, Paine College and Clinton Junior College presented posters on water quality assessments, the effects of phosphorus on algae growth, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and other research topics.
"It was a wonderful opportunity for our science students to get some exposure to a prestigious research institution in our own state." said Dr. Joe Emily, an SCSU chemistry professor.
SRNL officials said they expect new collaborations between the laboratory and HBCUs as part of SRNL's university partnerships program. They also hope some students from the exchange will pursue internships or employment at the laboratory.