URI chemistry professor named advocate to expand science opportunities for high schoolers

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Mindy Levine
URI Associate Professor of Chemistry Mindy Levine, left, and graduate students work with a high school student on an experiment during Sugar Science Day in February. URI Photo by Nora Lewis

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 21, 2019 – For the second straight year, the Society for Science & the Public has named University of Rhode Island Chemistry Professor Mindy Levine one of its advocates – educators and scientists who expand the opportunities in science and technology for students from low-income and underserved communities.

The Society chose 60 advocates for 2019-2020 from 33 states and Washington, D.C., to mentor students and prepare them to take part in science research competitions. More than 2,000 students have participated in the program since its launch in 2015, with more than 1,500 competing in nearly 2,400 science competitions. The program includes a $6,000 grant.

“Introducing high school students to science competitions is an outstanding way to connect them with a broader community of scientists and provide them even more tangible impact to the work that they do,” Levine said in a statement. “I am thrilled to be returning for a second year as an advocate, and look forward to bringing high-quality science and science competitions to even more students.”

In her nine-plus years at URI, Levine, of Sharon, Mass., has created numerous outreach programs dedicated to empowering girls to pursue careers in STEM fields. She annually hosts Sugar Science Day for high school girls in February, and Chemistry Camp for middle school girls in April.

Each advocate mentors about three students through the program. Levine also hosts high school students in her URI lab through the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED program, the national mentoring program MAGIC and a grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Students are generally informed of a big problem we are trying to solve in our lab – developing a sensor for water purity or making sports free of doping scandals – and then whatever steps we have taken to achieve that goal,” said Levine.  “We then explain what still needs to be done and help the students develop a plan for how to address that challenge, and be feasible for them to accomplish.”

Levine, an expert in synthetic organic chemistry with a focus on how molecules communicate with each other when not attached, has won numerous honors, including a Rising Star Award from the American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee, and the Sessler Early Career Researcher Prize from the journal Supramolecular Chemistry.