Feature Stories

NJIT Sophomore Awarded Needham Research Scholarship

Vincia Jackson was awarded The Robert Sydney Needham Memorial STEM Scholarship.

It isn’t often that an undergraduate gets a scholarship that pays her to do scientific research. But that’s precisely the good fortune that befell Vincia Jackson, a sophomore majoring in chemistry at NJIT.

And her good fortune came in the form of The Robert Sydney Needham Memorial STEM Scholarship, an award that supports NJIT students who study science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

The $38,000 scholarship not only covers Jackson’s tuition, room and board but also includes a research stipend. That stipend is allowing her to assist Professor Edward Dreyzin, a prominent NJIT researcher who studies how to mass produce new alloys and advanced materials.

Her Research Project

Jackson has already begun working in Dreyzin’s lab, where she’s developing a computer model for a mechanical alloying process.

Scientists can create alloys, but they have trouble mass producing the materials, said Dreyzin. Therefore, he is trying to scale up and mass produce new alloys. A team of graduate students assists Dreyzin, and Jackson uses a computer model to calculate and chart the mass production of the new materials. 

“Working in Professor Dreyzin’s lab is not only fascinating but will help me decide what kind of research I might focus on in my future studies,” says Jackson. “I’m grateful and humbled to receive such a rare opportunity and I’m trying to learn as much as I can while working with Professor Dreyzin, a leading researcher who always finds time to listen to my questions.”

As New Jersey’s science and technology university, NJIT provides a broad range of research opportunities for undergraduates. The Provost’s Office supports summer research for students, as does the Math Department and the Biology Department.  The Dorman Honors College sponsors the Interdisciplinary Design Studio, in which 24 students work on research with faculty and industry advisers.

Eager to Learn

Jackson is among NJIT’s most energetic and engaged students.  She’s a member of the NJIT Women’s Track Team and is Co-Vice President and Secretary of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She’s also Secretary of Phi Eta Sigma, a national honors society.  Through the Ambassador program of the Murray Center for Women in Technology, she also mentors freshmen women students.  She belongs to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) -- a program that helps minority students from low-income families earn degrees in STEM fields.

EOP executive director Tony Howell , who administers the Needham scholarship, said financial support for EOP students is doubly helpful.  Many EOP students must work to pay for school, said Howell; scholarship free them from work and allow them to focus on their studies.  And the Needham scholarship gives students the chance to do research, which will help them academically and professionally.    

“We are most grateful to be able to provide this wonderful opportunity to an outstanding young woman like Vincia Jackson,” said Howell.  “I know that she’ll learn all she can from her research and eventually make a major contribution in her field.”

(By Robert Florida)