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The Alabama School of Math and Science opens the only college-level research facility just for high schoolers in Alabama.

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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
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ASMS Wilson Science Research Center

A new education facility has opened where Alabama high school students can conduct college-level research. The Alabama School of Mathematics and Science (ASMS) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the E. O. Wilson Science Research Center, named after famous Alabamian and “the father of biodiversity,” Dr. Edward O. Wilson.

The facility is designed to support advanced STEM learning and the ASMS Research Fellows Program. Research Fellows is an innovative educational program where ASMS students are paired with a faculty mentor to work on a college-level research project throughout the school year. The program participants submit their work for competition at regional and state science fairs, regularly taking home top awards. All participants present at the school’s Spring Research Forum, where alumni evaluators provide feedback, and some students go on to deliver presentations at national conferences

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ASMS Alumni from the Class of 1998, 1999, and 2000

“Our students come from all 67 Alabama counties to attend ASMS and live on our campus because they are motivated to learn at new levels. Our faculty have turned down jobs at some of the most prestigious universities and research facilities in the country just to teach our students. We have made the most of this special community by creating an in-depth, collaborative, hands-on research experience that can now expand with the opening of the Wilson Science Research Center,” says ASMS Research Coordinator, Asia Frey.

Although the ASMS Research Fellows Program has already proven fruitful, the school has been limited by space and equipment. The former ASMS science building was originally constructed as a Sunday School building for Dauphin Way Baptist Church in the 1940s. ASMS considers the new E. O. Wilson Science Research Center to be the catalyst for the future of STEM education in Alabama. The world-class 32,000 square foot facility includes dedicated research rooms, state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, upgraded classrooms, innovative technology, and collaboration spaces. Faculty will teach and guide research projects with more students on a greater scale.

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Governor Kay Ivey

To date, ASMS Research Fellows Program students have pursued a range of projects including Heavy Metal Toxicity in Plants, Pop Music in Culture, Small Angle X -ray Scattering, Genetic Algorithms, Solar Sail Deployment Systems in Outer Space, Poetry in Puerto Rico, and many more.

“Our school founder, Ann Bedsole, has always challenged us to ‘raise the bar in education for Alabama.’ At ASMS, we know the next great step is giving our high schoolers the opportunity to conduct research with the college-level instructors who teach classes at our school,” says ASMS President, Dr. John Hoyle.

The school also reports that due to their research experiences, ASMS students are standing out in competitive college admissions and scholarships processes.

“We are excited to see that our students’ research experiences contribute to earning full-tuition scholarships at in-state institutions or being chosen for scholarship programs through national non-profits. Some of our alumni have even reported being chosen for graduate-level research teams while in undergrad,” says Hoyle.

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ASMS Foundation Board Chair, Kesshia Davis

In addition to research opportunities, the Wilson Science Research Center is expected to support workforce development in Alabama by preparing ASMS students to fill the need for high-level STEM jobs. Students will have hands-on learning opportunities to develop skillsets ranging from critical thinking to collaboration to problem solving to data analysis to communication and more. The school aims for ASMS graduates to be even more prepared to gravitate to the top of their professional fields and help solve some of Alabama’s most pressing challenges.

“One of my biggest reasons for wanting to attend this school was for the Research Fellows Program. It allows us to explore our research interests while addressing real-world problems. We get to ask questions and try to answer them through hands-on projects that we conduct alongside faculty members, drawing from their insight in academia and industry. Personally, it helped me build the skillset and connections I needed to complete my project in satellite technology, fueling my dream to become an engineer to help other scientists continue exploring space,” says ASMS senior, Yunseo Ha, who is from Lee County.

Any Alabama 9th or 10th grader who is excited about researching, learning, or developing new skills in the Wilson Science Research Center should reach out to ASMS about the admissions process which will open this fall.

The school would specifically like to thank Governor Kay Ivey and the members of the PSCA committee for seed funding the Wilson Science Research Center as well as the donors, foundations, families, alumni, and friends of ASMS who gave generously to provide the rest of the funds needed to open this new facility. View the full list here.

  • Jun 14, 2024