Area students explore chemistry and business at the BASF Sciency Academy

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Lawrence Brown of Donaldsonville High School and Aidan Reid of East Ascension High School, joined students from across the U.S., Canada and Central America for a preview of college and the business of chemistry during the fifth annual BASF Science Academy. The two week summer science program, developed by BASF Corporation, is held at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in Madison, New Jersey.

“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,” said Tom Yura, Senior Vice President and Manager for BASF in Geismar, Louisiana. “This is especially important to BASF since we are celebrating our 150th anniversary this year. It’s simply not possible to exist for 150 years and become the world’s leading chemical company without developing a strong pool of talented innovators.” 

“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 FDU. “I am excited to be a part of the experiences and progress the students make during the intensive two week program.”

The Science Academy targets rising seniors who have demonstrated a record of academic excellence with at least one year of high school chemistry and a strong interest in pursuing a degree in science. 

Following the curriculum theme “From Molecules to Marketplace,” students learn next-level science from FDU professors and interact with BASF scientists and business leaders through lectures, hands-on lab experiments and field trips. Working in teams, the students use BASF chemistry to formulate their own personal care products for which they develop a marketing plan and present to a panel of BASF executives and FDU academic leaders. 

Students graduate from the program with two transferable college science credits to encourage their pursuit of science education. In addition, FDU offers graduates $5,000 scholarships if they choose to attend FDU in the fall of 2016.

As an on-campus residential program, the Science Academy gives students added life experience that will help to prepare them for their future in higher education. Students use the university’s classrooms, chemistry labs, dorms and receive college-level instruction throughout the two weeks. BASF covers the full cost of the program, including student tuition and travel while working with the FDU staff to develop the challenging Science Academy curriculum. 

“I liked learning how chemistry and business were integrated because it allowed us to do hands-on activities and at the same time be exposed to business and marketing,” Brown said. “I think it allows one to become more familiar with the marketing process prior to opening a business or starting a company.” 

“The Science Academy has been an eye opening experience because there is so much more to the industry than I’ve been exposed to in the classroom,” Reid said. “It is because of the Science Academy that I now see a variety of career possibilities which makes me excited for my future.” 

Four former Science Academy participants, who are pursuing their studies of science at their given colleges, are currently working as summer interns at various BASF locations across the country. Two additional Science Academy alumni have been accepted into the BASF Professional Development Program (PDP) as interns. Each is pursuing a career in chemical engineering. 

BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has more than 17,000 employees in North America, and had sales of $20.6 billion in 2014. For more information about BASF’s North American operations,