Friday, July 07, 2017

[525] MTSU provides chemistry research for high school students through Project SEED

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — As a rising senior at Siegel High School, Lyn Smith has wasted no time absorbing as much knowledge as she can through Project SEED, MTSU's chemistry research program for high school students.

Project SEED (Summer Education Experience for the Economically Disadvantaged) gives rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to gain research insight and exposure to future career opportunities in science with the help of MTSU professors and student mentors.

"I actually plan on majoring in chemistry when I go to college. My teacher thought that this would be a very good opportunity to learn more about it," Smith said.

Not only do the high school students have the chance to bond while creating chemical reactions, but they also go beyond the classroom, which is something they're not used to this extent at high school.

"At the high school level, you don't get into all of the detail and it's more of the basics. Over here you're actually getting to work professionally with different people instead of by yourself," Smith added.

Jonathan Holzann will be a junior at Central Magnet High School in Murfreesboro and thanks MTSU for giving him an opportunity to expand his interest in science.

"It's been great working here,” Holzann said. “This is a much better job than I thought I'd get over the summer.”

For the duration of the program, each student will be working to synthesize a ligand molecule to be coupled with metal to form a metal catalyst for an amine alcohol coupling reaction.

Returning student Edgar Lozano of Central Magnet and Smith each received a $2,500 fellowship that was provided by the American Chemical Society and MTSU Office of Research Services.

All three teens will continue working in MTSU Science Building labs as a part of Project SEED for the remainder of summer.

The ACS-sponsored program runs for two months, with some days going as long for eight hours. These students were nominated and selected to work alongside MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences’ chemistry assistant professor Keying Ding.

"This is my first time participating in Project SEED, but when the students came here I could see their motivation,” Ding said. “Although they haven't taken much chemistry in high school, I can definitely see their potential.”

Department of Chemistry Chair Greg Van Patten has served as a mentor for Project SEED since 2013 and supervises the analytical methods conducted during the program.

To learn more about Project SEED opportunities at MTSU for 2018, contact Van Patten by calling 615-898-2956 or email

[524] MTSU pilots soar in national Air Race Classic, place 26th

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Gabriella Lindskoug and Jordan Cantrell are the first Middle Tennessee State University students to finish the grueling, all-female Air Race Classic.

Lindskoug, 20, a junior aerospace major from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, and Cantrell, 27, a pre-med student majoring in psychology and minoring in chemistry and aerospace from Nashville, achieved their goal in completing the nearly 2,650-mile event and flew back to Murfreesboro June 29.

The Air Race Classic is the longest running all-women pilots transcontinental air race. MTSU’s Alison Taylor and Alexis Hutchinson competed in 2013, but did not finish. For more about the race, visit

Lindskoug, and Cantrell, who called themselves “White Lightning,” flew the Cantrell family-owned Cessna Skyhawk out of Frederick (Maryland) Municipal Airport June 20 along with the other 51 teams. (A Washington, D.C., television station featured them at the start — Four days and 14 states later, they finished 26th overall at Santa Fe, New Mexico, Municipal Airport.

On Facebook, Lindskoug posted, “Oh, my goodness. We just completed the 2017 Air Race Classic! I cannot put into words what an INCREDIBLE experience this was. One day we woke up in Indianapolis, then we were paddle boarding on Lake Bemidji, and now we are in New Mexico. This has been absolutely wild.”

Cantrell said she has “dreamed of racing airplanes since I was a little girl. I am racing to become a better and safer pilot as well as to see a lot of the United States that I have not had the pleasure of flying over yet.”

Lindskoug, a commercial pilot with 200-plus hours of flight time, is an MTSU flight dispatcher and member of the MTSU Raiders chapter of Women in Aviation International. Her dreams are to become a fighter pilot with the Air National Guard and work for a major airline. From a flying family, her father is a pilot with a major airline and her grandfather flew fighter jets for the Swedish Royal Air Force.

Cantrell, a private pilot with 260 hours logged, is owner of Cantrell’s Airbnb and Springwater Supperclub and Lounge and vice president of Bald Eagle Enterprises. She is a Professional Association of Diving Instructors-certified scuba diver and beekeeper with her own honey label.

[523] MTSU graduate builds future with honor, leaving trauma behind

MURFREESBORO — The woman behind a successful construction and development business is using an MTSU education to build a new life for herself.

Jamie Butera is taking some time off before she builds upon her 2017 MTSU bachelor’s degree to pursue a master’s degree on the way to a counseling career.

She has earned the time away from her studies. The recipient of a “Senior Honor Student” certificate from the Department of Psychology overcame enormous obstacles to obtain a college education at the age of 42.

“It means so much to me,” said Butera. “I worked really hard, and, I guess because I’m an older student … I took things so much more seriously maybe because they were more valuable to me.”

After marrying her high-school sweetheart, Butera first became a mother at 18. However, she said the marriage soured, leading to a turbulent divorce and battle for custody of their 9-year-old daughter.

With few resources at her disposal following divorce proceedings, Butera worked for a cupcake company to make ends meet while trying to get sole parental rights.

“The process was so daunting and so lonesome and so confusing,” said Butera.

A second daughter became gravely ill with diabetic ketoacidosis while Butera was trying to study, forcing her to put her education on hold while the girl fought her way back from the brink.

Butera’s oldest daughter encouraged her mother to take a class with her at MTSU. Together, they enjoyed a wine appreciation course taught by Tony Johnston, a professor in the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience. That was the catalyst for Butera’s decision to go for a bachelor’s degree at last.

“I really loved MTSU,” said Butera. “I didn’t know how much I would love it.”

Her oldest daughter, 24-year-old Lauren, graduated from MTSU in 2014. Middle daughter Bella, fully recovered from her illness, is 16. The youngest daughter, Sophie, is 13.

Butera’s Franklin, Tennessee-based business, American Development Partners, and her family are the focus of a more serene life now. However, the difficult times in her life inspired Butera to look seriously at counseling trauma survivors after she achieves the necessary credentials.

“Just seeing the effect of counseling and how it can change the outcome after trauma made me want to focus on doing the same for other people,” said Butera.