High School Student Gains Research Experience with AIF

The aim of the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics mentorship program for high school students is to support the development of research skills through an ongoing or independent research project within design engineering. Students participate in an ongoing or independent project, with the primary outcome of integrating these skills to communicate their research via a written proposal and final oral presentation of their findings. 
Chris Zou worked under the mentorship of Jacob Jones and Jenny Forrester for two afternoons per week for 6 months to gain research experience within a university setting. Chris chose for his research a key piece of an ongoing, larger project within the Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center, of which Dr. Jones is the Principal Investigator, enabling him to interact with even more individuals. For his part in the project, Chris used X-ray diffraction to study potential materials to be used as sorbents for Phosphorus recovery. One of the high temperature XRD scans that Chris contributed to is shown below. At the end of his time at NC State University, Chris provided a 10 minute presentation at NCSSM on his work in the project.

Chris’ thoughts on the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics mentorship program:

I am Chris, a high school senior from NCSSM, a two year boarding school in Durham. I plan to continue my studies at UNC, hopefully pursuing a double major in computer science and biomedical engineering.

This program helped me gain a better understanding of what conducting research would be like. It helped me develop soft and hard skills in research to help me prepare for future work. I spent most of my time working with the XRD machines, but also got the chances to work with the SEM. Overall, my time at the AIF helped me further my knowledge in crystallography and other ideas related to XRD and phosphorus recovery.