Chemistry prof gains national recognition for outstanding mentorship

Author: Jules Bernstein
May 23, 2023

Professor Jingsong Zhang
UCR Chemistry Professor Jingsong Zhang

In recognition of his long-term commitment to and tremendous impact on students, the American Chemical Society, or ACS, selected UCR Chemistry Professor Jingsong Zhang for their Outstanding Project SEED Mentor Award.

Project SEED, or Summer Experiences for the Economically Disadvantaged, provides sustained STEM research, learning, and growth opportunities for high school students with diverse identities and socioeconomic backgrounds through hands-on summer research experiences and virtual summer camps.

SEED was established in 1968, when ACS recognized that social and political unrest could adversely affect the future of chemical science, by depriving people from access to opportunities.  ACS then passed a resolution “to take the appropriate steps to ease the problems of underprivileged segments of the nation’s population, particularly in relation to lack of education and unemployment.”

More than 50 years later, Project SEED has grown and diversified its services, providing summer research experiences and virtual camps to more than 11,000 students in 40 U.S. states and territories. Each year, the program offers 350+ students the chance to conduct research with qualified mentors in both academia and industry.

“To me personally it is very rewarding to witness the positive impacts of mentorship on students, how it has enriched their experience, and how it has motivated them to pursue STEM studies,” Zhang said. 

Zhang is one of only two academics in the country chosen for the 2022 outstanding mentorship award.

Research in his laboratory is focused on chemical processes associated with air pollutants, and with hydrocarbon fuels undergoing high-temperature reactions. Zhang’s SEED students will analyze Southern California soils for traces of heavy metals.