The American Chemistry Society’s Project SEED program is thriving at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Dr. Victoria Volkis is behind its success.  Volkis is one of two inaugural recipients of the Outstanding Project SEED Mentor Award.  She and Dr. Arthur Tinoco from the Puerto Rico ACS local section were selected from a pool of seven national finalists for the honor.  The award, presented during ACS’ 2021 National Meeting August 22-26 in Atlanta, recognizes the dedication of mentors to the program and its students.

The 2021 chair of ACS’ committee on Project SEED, Dr. Bryan Boudouris, attributed the success of the program to its “mentors and coordinators who are dedicated to ensuring the success of the students and the (program) alumni,” something that has held true for the 50-year history of the program.  He pointed to Volkis’ long-standing commitment to the program, impactful interactions with the students she has mentored and selfless service as factors that made her a standout.

UMES has hosted two students each summer since 2006.  Volkis has led the program since 2013 with the exception of 2020 and ’21, which were held virtually and directly by the ACS due to COVID-19.  Students who participate receive a $3,500 ACS fellowship ($1,000 over the pandemic) to attend the program and have the potential to be awarded an ACS scholarship covering the first year of college tuition.

Two Eastern Shore high school students participated last summer, but have a remaining year of school before they will seek college enrollment.  One of the last Project SEED students who participated in an in-person setting at UMES two summers in a row before the pandemic hit was Ezra Cable from James M. Bennett High School.  Cable has since enrolled at UMES (Fall 2020) with a full ride to pursue a degree in biochemistry.  He is a Richard A. Henson Honors student, is involved in Volkis’ research group and was a team leader for the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates Program this past summer.  Another student from Washington High School also enrolled at UMES the same year.

“This program plays a life-changing role for students from financially disadvantaged families interested in a career in chemistry and related disciplines, providing them with experience that they cannot get otherwise,” Volkis said.  “It also serves as an important tool in recruiting high quality students to UMES.”

Gail Stephens, agricultural communications, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences,, 410-621-3850.

Photo by Todd Dudek, agricultural communications, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences,

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