“I’ve been given opportunities that undergraduates at other schools don’t get,” says Huicong Xie, biochemistry and pre-med, ‘11. That chance is due to the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program at Ball State.

Huicong Xie

“The probability of using the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine at a big university for undergraduates is very small,” says Patricia Lang, chair for the Department of Chemistry. “At Ball State, undergraduates run the NMR machine, understand how it configures a reading, review the results, and use them in their lab. We give students the opportunity to expand their research skills in extraordinary ways.”

Lang, along with Assistant Professor Anita Gnezda, receives funding through the LSAMP program to help improve the graduation rates of students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The program gives emphasis to improving the number of degrees awarded to ethnic minority students. Out of 38 students in campus research labs, one-third are funded by LSAMP.

Each student is paired with a faculty mentor, gaining valuable research experience and discovering what it means to be a professional in the science community.

“We get the opportunity to move well beyond the classroom experience,” said Phillip Juárez, biochemistry, ’12.

Students who participated over the summer received a stipend and presented their research at the end of the summer term.

Phillip Juárez

“The LSAMP program has been successful in helping students see the possibilities for a future in science, which has led many of them to go on to graduate school and careers as chemists,” says Lang.

LSAMP complements the efforts of the Center for Authentic Scientific Practices in Education (CASPiE), an interuniversity partnership that has received funding from the National Science Foundation. Students have the opportunity to obtain research experience, creating open-ended experiments in a lab setting. Selected sections of chemistry courses are chosen to participate in this program, giving students a unique and skills-based experience to prepare them for the workplace.