STEM Research Experience

What is the STEM Research Experience?

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program provides students the opportunity to partner with experts in their field of research to learn the scientific process in a hands-on experience. Once selected for the program, students are expected to collaborate with their STEM & STVM mentors to create a project that they can complete in one year using the technology and knowledge available to them at the research facility.

Learn More

The University of Akron Connection

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School has a partnership with The University of Akron that makes this program possible. Special thanks goes out to Dr. Junpeng Wang for his coordination of the participating professors, laboratories and to all members of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering for their dedication to our students.

Who Can Apply?

Anyone that is a St. Vincent-St. Mary student, who is highly motivated, willing to work hard and who will be at least 16 years old by August 15. Successful completion of this program involves committing to work at the university a couple of hours each week and requires a willingness to be taught and learn new concepts and laboratory skills.

How to Apply

Fill out the application form and write an essay about why you want to be in the program. Any questions about the program can be directed to the Coordinator of the University of Akron Partnership/STEM project, Mrs. Joanna Price, at

Download the Application Form

Student Reflections

Bao Jian (“Philip")

"In these two photos, I was debugging the Schlenk Line in order to get rid of any water or trifluoroacetic acid. This is the second step of the lab. The Tm2O3, Yb2O3, and Y2O3 are to react with water and trifluoroacetic acid at 100℃ for 2 hours, the solution in the two-round bottom flasks will turn to grey. We need to evaporate the solution in the flask at 50℃ Celsius and that is what I was doing. It takes one to two hours to completely dissolve the compound, and it is necessary to continuously debug the Schlenk line to ensure the vacuum. In the later part of the experiment, the temperature needs to be raised to 300℃, the temperature rise process takes half an hour, and the solution needs to be kept at 300℃ for one hour, and then another hour is required to allow the solution to cool. The entire experiment takes a full day to complete, but the actual operation on the instrument may take less than four hours."

Laney King

"The image below shows the machine used for Plasma Enhanced Vapor Deposition (PECVD). PECVD is the process I am going to use in my experiment to alter the surface chemistry of a gecko-inspired adhesive. The machine heats different precursors to a plasma state which then deposits a certain coating on the surface of the gecko-inspired adhesives. The precursors I am going to be using are maleic anhydride hexamethyldisiloxane (HMDSO), and perfluorododecene."

"The pictures below show my graduate assistant’s pet gecko, Khai. I got to hold Khai and as he walked along my hand I was able to observe the digital hyperextension that geckos use to self-clean their toe pads. As a gecko peels their toes backward the extreme force of detachment flicks dirt particles out of the toe pads in the “jump off” phenomenon. You can also see that Khai is adhered to a vertical glass substrate. This is the adhesion system that the adhesives I will be working with are modeled off of."

Lucy Chumura

"I am working in Dr. Sahai’s lab. I am measuring the zeta potential of rutile (TiO2) when mixed with different salt solutions. The salts I am using are LiCl, NaCl, KCl, and CsCl. First, I must make a solution of the salt and deionized water. The concentration of the salt in the water is one mole per ten milliliters. Then, I will create a colloid of rutile and water which is made with a concentration of one milligram per milliliter of H2O. Then, seven test tubes of 2.7 mL of H2O, 15 microliters of rutile colloid, and 300 micrometers of salt solution are created. Different concentrations of HCl or NaOH are added to each test tube, in order to change the pH. Then the pH and zeta potential of each solution will be measured three times."