Anastasia Britton and Ryan Hoffman joined high school students from across the U.S. to explore chemistry and careers at the BASF Science Academy

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Anastasia Britton and Ryan Hoffman of Geismar, Louisiana were among 20 students selected to participate in the prestigious BASF Science Academy program.

GEISMAR – Anastasia Britton, senior at East Ascension High School, and Ryan Hoffman, senior at Dutchtown High School, attended the BASF Science Academy, a two-week summer science program sponsored by BASF Corporation at the Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) College at Florham campus in Madison, New Jersey. Each year, the program accepts twenty high school seniors from across the United States for an advanced science program that provides a preview of college life and an opportunity to learn advanced chemistry.

“BASF recognizes the importance of immersing students in science education -- realizing they will be the thinkers, innovators and leaders of the future.” said Tom Yura, Senior Vice President for the BASF site in Geismar. “The Science Academy aspires to develop the technology based workforce of the future by exposing students to practical business applications and potential careers in chemistry.”

"The partnership between business and academia is a successful model for helping students to understand the practical applications of what they are learning,” said Amber Charlebois, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “I was excited to be a part of the experiences and progress the students made during the intensive two week program.”

The Science Academy targets students who will be high school seniors in the fall; who completed at least one year of high school chemistry and have a demonstrated record of academic excellence and a strong interest in the sciences.

Following the curriculum theme “From Molecules to Marketplace,” students learn advanced level science from FDU professors and interact with BASF scientists and business leaders through lectures, hands-on lab experiments and field trips. In addition to basic scientific method, the students study polymerization, the chirality and analysis of chemical components, the properties of fragrances and colors, environmental science, product development, product marketing, and project management.

Working in teams, the students used BASF chemistry to formulate their own personal care products for which they developed business and marketing plans that they presented to a panel of BASF executives.

“My favorite part of the program was meeting so many different people who are all interested in the same subject as I am,” said Britton, who is a rising senior at East Ascension High School.

“I was surprised how much chemistry and marketing play into each other and learned that everyone has to communicate well to have a product made successfully. BASF was very hospitable and I learned so much from this program.”

“Everybody brought something new to the table” said Hoffman, who is a rising senior at Dutchtown High School. “The teamwork was great, despite the different personalities of everyone and we all worked so well together. My favorite part was working with my group and developing our face wash product. The trip to New York City was awesome, too.”

Students graduated from the program with two transferable college science credits to encourage their continuing pursuit of science education. In addition, FDU offered graduates $5,000 scholarships if they choose to attend FDU in the fall of 2014.

As an on-campus residential program, the Science Academy gives students a preview of college living. They used the university’s classrooms, labs, dining hall, dorms and received college-level instruction. BASF covered the full cost of the program including student tuition and travel and worked with the FDU staff to develop the Science Academy course curriculum.

Former graduates from the program – which started in 2011 – have gone on to pursue their science studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Cornell University, Princeton University, Rice University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Lamar University, University of Alabama, Virginia State University and Clemson University among others.

Six former Science Academy participants are working as student interns this summer at various BASF locations. Kevin Chao, Science Academy Class of 2011, at Florham Park, NJ; Raja Chennamraju, Science Academy Class of 2011, at Iselin, NJ; Matthew Bradshaw, Science Academy Class of 2012, at Suffolk, VA; Brian Gates, Science Academy Class of 2012, at Geismar, LA; Gabriella Hummel, Science Academy Class of 2012, at Charlotte, NC; and Katelyn McCoy, Science Academy Class of 2012, at Port Arthur, TX.

Participants in the Science Academy Class of 2014 are listed below.

•            Haylee Begin-Dyck, Catholic Central High School, Ontario, Canada

•            Anastasia Britton, East Ascension High School, Louisiana

•            Audrey Effenberger, High Technology High School, New Jersey

•            Xuerui Fa, Pioneer High School, Michigan

•            Kyle Fenske, West Morris Central High School, New Jersey

•            Nathan Fox, Bob Jones High School, Alabama

•            Nicole Haller, Bishop McNamara Catholic High School, Illinois

•            Matthew Henderson, Seton Hall Preparatory School, New Jersey

•            Ryan Hoffman, Dutchtown High School, Louisiana

•            Grant Hummel, Fort Mill High School, South Carolina

•            Cynthia Lin, Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities, Texas

•            Christina Martinelli, Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey

•            Eric McElhinny, Seneca Valley High School, Pennsylvania

•            Rose Nixon, Whippany Park High School, New Jersey

•            Patrick Oare, Chatham High School, New Jersey

•            Yesenia Rosario, Dover High School, New Jersey

•            Adam Supel, Elyria High School, Ohio

•            Alexis Tijerina, Brazosport High School, Texas

•            Matthew Ulinski, Florham Park, New Jersey

•            Sydney Ward, Lakeland High School, Virginia