Preparing H.S. Students for a Future in Research

ChBE Alumna Jessica Bartling, '01, spearheads an innovative program

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Josie Giles
School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
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ChBE Alumna Jessica Bartling, '01, spearheads an in

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Jessica Bartling, Ph.D. '01, has taken her research and engineering training in a unique direction. As a chemistry teacher at Atlanta-area independent school Woodward Academy, she has developed an innovative program that provides high school students with the opportunity to participate in college-level research.

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  • From left: Dr. Jessica Bartling with the four stud From left: Dr. Jessica Bartling with the four stud
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Jessica Bartling, Ph.D. '01, has taken her research and engineering training in a unique direction. As a chemistry teacher at Atlanta-area independent school Woodward Academy, she has developed an innovative program that provides high school students with the opportunity to participate in college-level research.

The Independent Scientific Research (ISR) course was introduced this year for the first time at Woodward. The program concept had been a topic of discussion for a number of years but did not become a reality until Jessica volunteered to spearhead the program, which is open to highly motivated seniors with a strong interest in science.

As part of the ISR course, Jessica requires each student to identify an outside research mentor, develop a research proposal, collect and analyze data, and report findings through written and oral reports. Students must also participate in various high school science competitions.
Each of the four students who participated in the program worked in university labs last
summer and then continued his or her project at Woodward throughout the school year with frequent visits to the university labs. They investigated a variety of topics, ranging from bioremediation to quantum physics. The university mentors were from Emory and Tech, including ChBE's Paul Kohl and Dennis Hess. Jessica says that the mentors were "crucial throughout the process in assisting the students in their investigations."

One of the most unique qualities of the program is that it allows the students to participate in scientific research at a level far surpassing traditional high school curriculum, even the breadth explored in advance placement courses. They participate in real-time experiments along with professors, graduate students, and other university researchers.

From their experience, the ISR students have learned that scientific research is more than the tried and true demonstrations usually seen in high school laboratories. Student participant Ben Sattin comments that in "AP Chemistry, everything just somehow worked, but in reality, that's just not the case. It takes time and patience." Another student, Dana Philen, encourages her peers to participate in research because "it is a great way to find out if science is the field for you."

Already the program has been successful for the students and the greater scientific community. Not only are the students learning invaluable research skills, they are also winning awards, publishing in professional journals, and filing patent applications.

Ben, who worked with Dr. Kohl, was selected as one of three semi-finalists from Georgia in the Intel Science Talent Search based upon his research paper entitled "The Feasibility of a Carbonate-Conducting Membrane for Fuel Cell Use." He also won first place overall at the Georgia Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, and second place in the Engineering Division at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

Additionally, Ben and Dr. Kohl filed a provisional patent for his work. These accomplishments are impressive for a junior researcher, making it easy to forget that Ben accomplished all this before graduating from high school this spring.

The list of accolades continues for the other student participants. A paper that Dana contributed to was recently accepted and published in the Journal of Chemical Physics, and the two other students are currently authoring papers for submission to academic journals.

Anand Nallathambi, the student paired with Dr. Hess, was not enrolled in the ISR course for credit. However, he will be returning to work with Dr. Hess again this summer and has been accepted by Tech for enrollment this fall. Anand says he plans to pursue a degree in engineering.

After a successful first year, Jessica is enthusiastic about the program and has already received 20 applications for next year. Although final selection into the program is based upon each student's written proposal, the level of interest in the program is clearly growing.

As additional proof of the program's success, Jessica says that the ISR program is spreading
into other departments at Woodward, "creating an entire community where knowledge is not just absorbed, it is created." Sadly, Jessica will be leaving Atlanta to move to Germany with her husband, Karsten Bartling, who will complete his Ph.D. in ChBE from Tech this fall. Jessica will remain at Woodward until December to oversee the program's transition to the leadership of Dr. Tom Rounds.

Dr. Rounds received his Ph.D. from MIT and has years of experience in both industry and academics. He looks forward to overseeing the ISR program and to continuing the collaboration established with ChBE professors and other members of the Tech research community.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

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Keywords
alumni news, chbe, chemical & biomolecular engineering
Status
  • Created By: Josie Giles
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jul 13, 2006 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:06pm