March 02, 2010

SIUC hosts Junior Science-Humanities Symposium

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill -- Dozens of young scientists from throughout the state will arrive at Southern Illinois University Carbondale later this month for a three-day symposium highlighting their independent research.

The Illinois Junior Science & Humanities Symposium is set for March 25-27 at SIUC. The event, a regional competition that helps set the stage for the national one, encourages Illinois high school students to conduct research in science, engineering and mathematics. The contest offers cash prize awards and scholarships to top participants. The top winners will go on to the national contest set for April 28-May 2 in Bethesda, Md.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the Illinois Junior Science & Humanities Symposium at SIUC. Contact Julia Wetstein, assistant dean of the College of Science, at 618/453-7062 or for more information.

Julia Wetstein, assistant dean of the College of Science, said about 80 people will participate in this year’s event, which SIUC has hosted for several years.

“These are students from around the entire state. They’ve each conducted a serious research project, documented everything and written a comprehensive paper on it,” she said. “They will be giving a talk and presentation on their research findings during the symposium.”

Co-sponsored by the United States’ armed services, as well as the Academy of Applied Science and SIUC, the event promotes research and experimentation among high school students, recognizes the importance of research and promotes humane and ethical principles in applying research results. It also is aimed at identifying talented young researchers and their teachers, helping them pursue further education and increasing their numbers.

The event kicks off the evening of Thursday, March 25, with a reception and keynote speech. Punit Kohli, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at SIUC, will give the keynote address, talking about nanotechnology and its medical applications, Wetstein said. This opening session begins at 7 p.m. the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library.

Paper presentations begin the following morning on Friday and run 8 a.m. to noon at the Student Center. Participants will visit various University research laboratories early that afternoon before beginning the research poster presentation session at 3 p.m. Judges will present prizes during an awards banquet set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Giant City Lodge.

The event wraps up Saturday with an environmental program at Touch of Nature Environmental Center and a luncheon.

Last year’s two top winners are scheduled to participate again during this year’s event, Wetstein said. Prem Thottumkara, of Macomb Senior High School, and Julia Bensen, of Deerfield High School, both are scheduled to compete.

Bensen won last year’s regional IJSH at SIUC while Thottumkara received second place. Thottumkara went on to place second in the chemistry division of the national IJSH competition held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.