Longwood chemistry majors Jammie McMurtry ‘24 and Antonio Harvey ‘25 were selected to participate in the prestigious Scholars Transforming Through Research (STR) Program for 2022-2023, hosted by the Council for Undergraduate Research and formerly known as Posters on the Hill.
As part of her senior thesis project, McMurtry set out to examine the existing petroleum pollution along the shoreline of Virginia, focusing specifically on the Chesapeake Bay area and the impacts of diesel fuel from the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk.
Harvey joined McMurtry’s research endeavors in the fall of 2022 and, together, they have extended beyond analyzing the petroleum problem to developing chemical solutions, such as bioremediation and phytoremediation, to eliminate oil in the bay.
McMurtry and Harvey were one of 75 teams selected to participate in this year’s STR Program. With its goals of in-person skill development, advocacy training and networking, the program has given the pair professional development opportunities and a platform from which they can further influence public policies through discussion of their findings.
Accompanied by Dr. Sarah Porter, professor of analytical chemistry, McMurtry and Harvey have met multiple influential figures while participating in the STR Program, including Virginia Congressman Don Beyer and aides for Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.
“It deals a lot with implementation of our research in the bigger picture and how we can influence public policies,” said Harvey. “This experience establishes a foundation and gives us confidence that we can go to public policy makers and advocate for issues that we are influenced by or passionate about.”
McMurtry added that one thing that drew her to the program is that it advocates for undergraduate research.
“Some people think you need a Ph.D. to do research, but it really starts at the undergrad level,” she said. “We can use our young minds to ask the questions and do the research and then we will build on that experience when we go into the field one day.”
Both students plan to continue researching as they complete their undergraduate degrees in chemistry at Longwood.