Science students encouraged to apply for NIST opportunities

The Florida A&M Division of Research invited Bryant C. Nelson, a research chemist, to tell students about internship programs with The National Institute of Standards and Technology. There has been a decline in the number of students applying to the program.

Larry Robinson, the vice president of research, learned about the decline after his visit to the institute this past summer. Robinson said the research committee brought Nelson to campus to inform students about the requirements of the internship and fellowship programs.
“The only thing that concerned us when I visited NIST this summer is that they indicated our students who had been applying in the previous years for some reason were not applying any more,” Robinson said. “So we wanted to do something because NIST has a fairly mature undergraduate internship and graduate fellowship program, all of which are available competitively to FAMU students.”

Professor of anatomy and physiology Adrian McCollum said he plans to encourage his students to participate in the research program because it would benefit the university.

“I think it brings some new techniques and technology toward the university,” McCollum said. “It gives us some ideas as to where we want to go as far as research is concerned. It also helps to inspire new faculty as well as students to strive for that kind of research.”
Students like Lateya James, 28, a fourth-year biology and pre-med student from Tampa, assembled in the Blue Cross Blue Shield auditorium Thursday concerning internship opportunities with the NIST.

James said the seminar gave her a more in-depth idea of the research program, which piqued her interest in a career with NIST.

“I would be very interested in career opportunities and further development in the NIST program,” James said. “It (the seminar) gave us an idea of what goes on in the research program.”

The purpose of Nelson’s visit was to recruit and educate science, mathematics and engineering students on the research careers available with NIST. 

“The main purpose of me coming here is also to recruit students for our SURF program and also our post-doc program,” Nelson said.

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, SURF, is a three-month fellowship for undergraduate students to work with researchers responsible for cutting edge research in physics, chemistry, biochemistry and material science.

The Postdoctoral Research Associateship, or Post-Doc program, is a two-year program, which offers appointments for outstanding scientists and engineers chosen through a national competition administered by the National Research Council under the National Academy of Sciences.

Students are used as actual researchers to further the program. According to Nelson, the internships and fellowships are paid and students have the opportunity to have their work published and presented around the United States.

“It’s not an internship where you come and do busy work,” Nelson said. “It’s very high-level in the lab research. At the end of the internship you present the work. It’s a professional internship.”

The faculty and student forums followed the seminar. The forums gave more information on the application process for career opportunities with NIST.

More information about the SURF and Post-Doc programs can be found at and