By Aaron Ellerman, PHSC
Diana Hernandez, a recent Pasco-Hernando State College graduate and Wesley Chapel native, returns this month from a unique summer educational opportunity at Boston University.
Her journey started with involvement in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Leadership and Academic Enhancement Program (LSAMP) through PHSC.
The LSAMP program, named in honor of former congressman Louis Stokes, is a National Science Foundation-funded program intended to support historically underrepresented students in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
“Initiatives such as LSAMP are crucial in providing support to underrepresented racial and ethnic minority students who are pursuing STEM careers. Historically, the STEM field has lacked diversity, making programs like LSAMP essential in addressing this inequality,” said Courtney Dominique, pre-collegiate and LSAMP advisor at PHSC.
The program fosters student growth and enables opportunities for participation in a variety of programs, such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), which are highly competitive and prestigious, and have an acceptance rate of approximately 3 percent.
“Through the program, students have experienced valuable opportunities to expand their perspectives through travel experiences both in and out of state. They have attended conferences, participated in professional development workshops, taken part in college tours at University of South Florida, conducted water testing at the Crystal Springs Preserve, and explored the possibilities of humanoid robots at The Institute for Human & Machine Cognition,” said Dominique.
Hernandez’s 4-month summer REU at Boston University focused on The Fundamental Research in Chemistry Addressing Problems in Biology.
She prepared for the event through meticulous and thorough study and mentorship. “I read many articles regarding my research consisting of the discovery and development of medicinally important compounds for the leishmaniasis parasite and worked under the supervision of Dr. Scott Schaus, my mentor, who helped me prepare and study the necessary materials for the project at hand,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez will start her junior year at USF this fall, where she plans to continue her studies, using her newly acquired experience to aid in her academic and professional journey.
“During my time at Boston University, I assisted graduate students in their research for their thesis. This consisted of creating imine reactions, running NMRs, using column chromatography, and many other incredible procedures that one doesn’t get to do during their undergraduate years. All of these experiences will be extremely valuable for my development as a future scientist,” said Hernandez.
Students interested in joining LSAMP at PHSC can apply by visiting our website https://equity-services.phsc.edu/students/student/lsamp