COLUMBUS, Ohio (July 28, 2020)—High school students taking part in Unite, a nationwide program that helps underserved students pursue college degrees in STEM fields, heard firsthand from someone playing a critical role in the battle against COVID-19 about the importance of math and science.
Christian Williams, a research chemist who is site lead at the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System in Blacksburg, spoke via Zoom to the class of high schoolers participating in Unite, a two-year grant awarded to Virginia Tech’s TRIO Programs. The grant supplements the Upward Bound program, adding STEM classes to a six-week summer session that gives talented high school students from underserved populations a taste of college life. Although usually held on campus, this year’s programs were held virtually.
In addition to its connection to Virginia Tech through the decontamination facility, Battelle is also a leading funder of Unite through the Army Educational Outreach Program.
Williams said he felt a personal duty to help tackle the shortage of personal protective equipment in hospitals after his fiancee, an intensive care unit nurse, was informed she would receive only one N95 mask. When Battelle got a contract to set up decontamination sites, Williams knew that “if anybody was going to sign up to help, that should probably be me.”
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