Grant Helping Andrew Increase Research Opportunities for Community College Students

Trisha L. Andrew, left, and Emerson Alexander
Trisha L. Andrew, left, and Emerson Alexander

Trisha L. Andrew, associate professor of chemistry, recently received a $2,500 L’Oréal USA Changing the Face of STEM grant to increase hands-on research opportunities for community college students.

Over the 2018-19 academic year, Andrew and her research group will train interns from Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) to create garment-integrated sensors, an effort that she hopes will “entice a diverse student population to become scientists and fortify the number of underrepresented students in chemistry and engineering.”

STCC offers students a program called STEM Starter Academy to enhance students’ readiness for STEM jobs or to transfer to a four-year academic STEM program. Andrew has previously participated in annual “maker” events organized by STCC and has worked with STCC faculty to encourage graduates of its Starter Academy to pursue degrees at UMass Amherst.

With this grant, Andrew says she plans to provide potential interns with a stipend, an important step in growing the program and establishing deeper ties with STCC.

For example, Emerson Alexander, a recent graduate of the STEM Starter Academy, is working in Andrew’s lab to develop fabric patches that turn bright pink when the wearer has been exposed to a damaging level of ultraviolet light. Emerson, who is currently enrolled in the pre-dental major at STCC, graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School in 2018 with several honors including a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship.