'Budding' Inner-City School Scientists Studying Plant Biotech At UNH
By Beth Potier, Media Relations
July 23, 2008
UNH is collaborating with the Harlem Children Society to provide a week of
hands-on learning in plant biotechnology and other cutting-edge science fields
to 35 promising high school science students from New York and New Jersey inner-city
schools. The pilot program, called Project REIS (Research Experience In Science)@UNH,
runs July 20 – 28.
“We’re pleased to pilot this partnership with the Harlem Children
Society, which since 2000 has distinguished itself for nurturing and developing
promising students from under-resourced and under-served communities and school
districts with hands-on science and math opportunities,” says professor
of plant biology Subhash Minocha, who is leading the program.
Minocha notes that Project REIS taps the experiences of Project SMART (Science
and Mathematics Achievement through Research Training), which Minocha has directed
at UNH for 17 years. The two programs may be integrated in the future.
During their week at UNH, the Project REIS students are exploring plant biotechnology,
biopharming, plant genetic engineering and genetically modified foods, biofuels,
and bioremediation by plants. They will also discuss environmental, social,
ethical and moral issues related to plant biotechnology and genetic engineering.
In labs, they are working hands-on with plant cloning, plant chromosomes, gene
transfer into bacteria, and testing genetically engineered foods. Field trips
and additional seminars are introducing students to other areas of scientific
strength at UNH, including marine and environmental sciences, nanotechnology,
and space science.
“Project REIS will let us showcase UNH as a wonderful place to pursue
a college education,” says Minocha. “For these students, most of
whom have never left their neighborhoods, the opportunity to study science
in our rural setting will be exciting.”
The Project REIS students are living in UNH residence halls and eating at
Holloway Commons during the week. In addition, evening discussions focus on
college admissions, diversity issues, and careers in science. In addition to
the resources of the Harlem Children Society, the UNH component of the program
is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF EPSCoR and Career Fellowships
to faculty), the NH Space Grant Consortium, the deans of the College of Life
Sciences and Agriculture and College of Engineering and Physical Sciences,
Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity, Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing,
Office of Admissions, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and the McNair
Graduate Opportunity Program.
For more information about the program, visit www.smart.unh.edu. For information
about the Harlem Children Society, go to www.harlemchildrensociety.org.