April 25, 2008

CCHS sophomore wins top prize at symposium

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A sophomore at Carbondale Community High School is the winner of the annual Illinois Junior Science & Humanities Symposium hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Mrinalini Prasanna joined dozens of high school science students, along with their teachers and a few parents from scores of schools across the state, for the event recently at SIUC. She is the daughter of Dr. Chamu Shanmugam, a Carbondale pediatrician, and P.K. Basavegowd of Miramar, Fla.

SIUC and the College of Science sponsored the event with funding from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. It was one of 48 regional competitions nationwide administered by the Academy of Applied Science.

The event is aimed at encouraging high school students to pursue scientific research and at identifying and encouraging talented youths with an interest in science. It centers on student presentations.

The Army and Air Force ROTC programs at SIUC support the event, as does the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

This year's symposium featured more than 70 students along with teachers and several parents from 18 schools across Illinois.

As the top prizewinner, Prasanna will present her paper titled, "Gender Difference in Developmental Milestones in Infancy and Childhood," during the national symposium April 30-May 4 in Orlando, Fla. She also will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

A sophomore at CCHS, Prasanna moved to Carbondale two years ago. She maintains a 4.0 grade point average and regularly participates in scholar competitions and events.

Her mother said Prasanna pursued the three-year science project after doctors mistakenly diagnosed her younger brother with developmental delays when he was 6 months old.

When she's not immersed in her schoolwork, Prassana enjoys spending time with her family, piano, cooking, badminton, biking and world travel.