Two years ago Tanea Doswell ’24 spent most of her summer in a Longwood chemistry lab working alongside Dr. Benjamin Topham to design single molecule switches, an important component in the ambitious field of molecular electronics. Ultimately she created the most effective switch in her group—when she was just 17 years old.
A participant in the inaugural Summer Scholars, an intensive summer research program for high-school students, Doswell was then a rising senior at Randolph-Henry High School in nearby Charlotte County. Now she’s a freshman at Longwood, and one of her fellow Summer Scholars participants, Prince Edward County High School senior Antonio Harvey, is right on her heels, with plans to enter Longwood this coming fall.
The Summer Scholars program sealed the deal for me. I had some doubts because Longwood is so close to home, but being on campus is like another world outside of Farmville. It was a great experience with amazing people.Tanea Doswell ’24 Tweet This
Doswell credits her experience in the program with influencing her decision to become a Lancer. “The Summer Scholars program sealed the deal for me,” Doswell said. “I had some doubts because Longwood is so close to home, but being on campus is like another world outside of Farmville. It was a great experience with amazing people.”
The eight-week program gives high-school students the opportunity to participate in college-level STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research projects while being mentored by a Longwood professor. Participants also engage in enrichment activities designed to help them prepare for college and a future career in a STEM-related field.
“The target audience for this includes students who are historically underrepresented, including low-income and first-generation students, minorities and students from rural schools,” said Dr. Sarah Porter, professor of analytical chemistry, who oversees the program. “That’s how I got interested in this program in the first place, because all of the school systems surrounding Farmville are rural.”
I learned that exploring through scientific investigation is a great way to gain knowledge and experience. I highly recommend this program to other high-school students because it is a great opportunity to discover what you want to do in life.Antonio Harvey '25 Tweet This
Doswell, a member of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars who is majoring in psychology, said her experience taught her how to work in a scientific lab and helped her to step out of her comfort zone.
She was one of four students accepted into the initial Summer Scholars program in 2019: Two came from Randolph-Henry, and two were from Prince Edward County High School. The program, which is run in conjunction with Longwood’s PRISM program, took a hiatus in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Students will be selected soon to participate in the 2021 Summer Scholars program.
The program is funded jointly through grants from the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED and the Army Educational Outreach Program’s REAP (Research in Engineering Apprenticeship Program) and is open to high-school students in grades 9-12. Participants are paid a stipend and also return to campus in the fall to present during Longwood’s Student Showcase for Research and Creative Inquiry.
Also leveraging his Summer Scholars experience, Harvey plans to major in chemistry at Longwood and is seeking scholarships though the Project SEED program.
He worked alongside Porter in the summer of 2019 on a research project that involved analyzing petroleum products for forensic and environmental applications using various instruments.
“My favorite part of the whole project was definitely the experimentation because I was exposed to how things are done in the lab,” he said. “I learned that exploring through scientific investigation is a great way to gain knowledge and experience. I highly recommend this program to other high-school students because it is a great opportunity to discover what you want to do in life.”