April 16, 2014

Students earn top junior science honors

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Five high school students, including two from Carbondale Community High School, earned top honors recently at the Illinois Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

About 60 high school students participated in the event at SIU Carbondale, one of the 48 regional competitions nationwide sponsored by the Department of Defense and administered by the Academy of Applied Sciences.  This is the 36th year SIU hosted the event with assistance from the colleges of Science, Agricultural Sciences, and the Air Force and Army ROTCs. 

The event’s goal is to encourage scientific research at the high school level. Students presented their own original research and visited campus laboratories during their three-day visit late last month.  Of the nine students who gave oral presentations, five finalists earned an expense-paid trip to the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, April 23-27, in Washington, D.C. 

The finalists, with high school and project title are: 

  • First place -- Natalie Nickrent, Carbondale Community High School, “Cloning Ezh1: First Steps Toward an Analysis of Ezh1 Function.”
  • Second place -- Conner Ruhl, Governor French Academy, “A New General Method of Relational Heuristics Utilizing Agent-Based Collective Intelligence.”
  • Third place -- Naomi Benson, Deerfield High School, “Tsunami Mitigation As a Function of Alterations in Bottom Friction.”
  • Fourth place -- Brian Suarez, Carbondale Community High School, “Cycloalkyl Rhodamine Fluorophores, Analysis and Synthesis.”
  • Fifth place -- Andy Woodruff, Macomb High School, “Pseudo-Random Number Generation via Radio Static.” 

“The caliber of research presented was phenomenal,” said Namdar Mogharreban, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science.  Faculty from the departments of chemistry and biochemistry, physiology, and plant, soil and agricultural systems also participated as judges. 

Nickrent and Ruhl are invited to present their research at the national symposium later this month, with the possibility of earning additional scholarship and a chance to compete at the International Junior High Science and Humanities Symposium in London, England. 

The top three finalists won scholarships from the Academy of Applied Sciences to the universities of their choice in the amount of $2,000, $1,500, and $1,000 respectively. The College of Science and College of Agricultural Sciences at SIU will match this amount if the student chooses to attend SIU and major in one of those areas.