BASF Science Academy inspires innovative thinking

Students embrace the challenges of chemistry at the two-week advanced level science program

BASF 2015 science academy

Participants in the 2016 BASF Science Academy explored connections between business and advanced science at FDU. (Photo courtesy of BASF)

FLORHAM PARK, NJ, August, 01, 2016–Twenty high school seniors from schools across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Central America jump-started their college experience and learned the business of chemistry at the sixth annual BASF Science Academy.

The two-week summer science program, developed by BASF Corporation, is held at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in Madison, New Jersey. Working in teams, students use BASF chemistry to formulate their own personal care products and develop a go-to-market plan and strategy. At the end of their two weeks, students present their product to a panel of BASF executives and FDU academic leaders.

“The Academy is a wonderful opportunity to expose bright young minds to the wonders of chemistry and business in a college setting,”said Robin Rotenberg, Vice President of Corporate Communications for BASF in North America. “It’s rewarding to see how such a diverse group of teenagers grow together in a dynamic learning environment. Once they return to their schools and local communities, our hope is that they will share what they have learned and inspire other students to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math.”  

Following the curriculum theme, “From Molecules to Marketplace”, students gain invaluable hands-on experience in college chemistry labs while developing a marketing strategy to link their product to the consumer. Students also experience chemistry in action by visiting BASF Research and Development labs in Tarrytown, NY and meeting with cosmetic chemists and subject matter experts. Through exposure to real world chemistry, students observe how the fundamental building blocks of many every day products are comprised of chemistry.

“The partnership between business and academia is a successful model for helping students understand the practical applications of what they learn,” said Dr. Brian Olechnowski, program director at FDU. “I am excited to be a part of the experiences and progress the students make during the intensive two week program.”

Students graduate from the program with two transferable college credits to encourage their pursuit in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field. In addition, FDU offersScience Academy alumni $5,000 scholarships if they choose to attend FDU in the fall of 2017.

“When my team and I started to work together to create our body lotion, that’s when I started learning the most from the students around me,” said Karla Paola Bonilla, Science Academy participant from Mexico City, Mexico. “I enjoyed meeting so many students with diverse backgrounds while at the Science Academy. I was surprised to see the quality of chemistry labs we were working in and the exposure to possible career paths in chemistry and business.”

“My dream job is to be at the front of discovery and new innovations or think of a new take on older ideas,” said Jason Yang, Science Academy participant from Katy, TX. “I learned that the most important way to advance chemistry is through sustainability. I think the combination of business and chemistry is vital because at the end of the day, you can do as much chemistry as you want, but you need funding and a business plan to put your chemistry in the marketplace.”

Several Science Academy alumni have returned to BASF through the summer hire internship program and the Professional Development Program (PDP). Most notably, Science Academy class of 2011 alumni, Kevin Chao, joined BASF as a full-time PDP. Kevin will begin working for BASF in Beaumont, TX in September.

Graduates of the 2016Science Academy are listed below:
• Virginia Behmer, Elyria High School, OH
• Jacob Bice, Geneva Community High School, IL
• Karla Paola Bonilla Gomez, ColegioIndoamericano, Mexico
• Alexander Chen, Whippany Park High School, NJ
• Lara Dmitruchina, Roosevelt High School, MI
• Winston Hung, West Brook High School, TX
• Joelle Kim, Grissom High School, AL
• Nicole LeJeune, East Ascension High School, LA
• Breanna Lima, St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School, ON, Canada
• Danielle Matz, Seneca Valley Senior High School, PA
• Anthony Nepomuceno, Bradley-Bourbonnais High School, IL
• Jacob Pate, Columbia High School, TX
• Adithya Ramaswami, Anthony Wayne High School, OH
• Anna Reed, Morris Knolls High School, NJ
• Ana Paula Reyna Maldonado, Bilingue Vista Hermosa, Guatemala
• Cody Sasser, Port Neches Groves High School, TX
• Alana Tillery, Kings Fork High School, VA
• Jiayuan Wang, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, VA
• Jason Yang, The Kinkaid School, TX
• Claire Zou, Randolph High School, NJ

About BASF

BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has nearly 17,500 employees in North America, and had sales of $17.4 billion in 2015. For more information about BASF’s North American operations, visit

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