Georgia Gwinnett College’s Project SEED program prepares high school students for STEM careers

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (ATLANTA NOW NEWS AT 10) — A hands-on research program at Georgia Gwinnett College is giving bright young minds a space to grow, while planting the seeds of future success.

Some of the next scientists who could develop groundbreaking medicines and cures for diseases can be found in a Georgia Gwinnett College lab this summer. One of them is future psychiatrist Jane Yoo, a rising senior at Peachtree Ridge High School.

“As a psychiatrist, since it’s a doctor, I need to have a very solid foundation of chemistry, and this basically provides the first cornerstone of my understanding of the field,” Yoo said.

A half dozen high schoolers are taking part in the Project SEED program, which targets students from underserved communities. SEED originally stood for “Summer Experiences for the Economically Disadvantaged.” The students attend Peachtree Ridge and Shiloh High Schools, along with the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology. They’re also earning money. Each student receives $3,200 for the 8-10 week research program.

Joshua Leonora, a rising sophomore at Peachtree Ridge, is getting a jump on his career as a future neurology technician. “I’d be researching many technologies that would help improve many things like having to do with the brain and the spine,” he said.

“So far, Project SEED has impacted about 15 students through Georgia Gwinnett College, economically disadvantaged, that would not otherwise have the opportunity,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Neville Forlemu.

“It’s opening up doors for them to really excel in science and in STEM fields,” said Dr. Simon Mwongela, another associate chemistry professor.

Their projects include extracting proteins from special plants grown at the college. “They’re then going to use it to see whether it can be applied as a drug, whether we can use it as a pesticide, and functionalize it for so many different things,” said Forlemu.

“This is really exciting for us as faculty and also for the students that participate,” said Mwongela.

They’re also developing the communication, critical thinking and research skills that will help them thrive in any industry.

“I want to continue this research and learn more about chemistry and other science fields that relate it,” said Yoo.

“I really appreciate the opportunity of being able to be here and the people who made this happen for me,” Leonora said.

The American Chemical Society launched Project SEED in 1968, and GGC started its program in 2017.

Georgia Gwinnett College’s Project SEED program prepares high school students for STEM careers