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GPS Science Students Earn Top Prizes at CT Science and Engineering Fair
GPS Science Students Earn Top Prizes at CT Science and Engineering Fair

After two weeks of virtual judging, the CT Science and Engineering Fair (CSEF) closed on Saturday with the awards ceremony, where all six of the top prizes in the senior (high school) category went to Greenwich High School students in the Honors Research Seminar Course, and two other first place prizes went to an eighth grader at Eastern Middle School.

GHS Science Research Seminar Teacher Mr. Andrew Bramante shared, "To say it was another banner day for GHS Science Research would simply be an understatement. As winners of each of the top (high school) awards in the fair, the independent research of our GHS students was once again recognized to be the absolute best among CT competitors. These students will all have the opportunity to compete in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in May, allowing them to articulate their discoveries alongside ~1,200 of the best and brightest young minds from around the globe."

GHS winners at the CSEF:

  • Autumn Kim: First Place in Physical Sciences, and an opportunity to compete at ISEF; Design of a MFe2O4/Bentonite/Graphite Coated Polyurethane Sponge for Economical and Eco-Friendly Oil Spill Recovery. Autumn created an activated, oil-soaking sponge that can remove (i) the excess visible oil from the top of contaminated water where a spill has taken place, and (ii) the equally harmful, but more difficult to remove, soluble and unseen oil that persists below the surface of the contaminated water. All current technologies focus on removal of visible oils until the oil is "apparently" gone, with little regard for the sight-unseen, soluble oils that harm the aquatic environment. Autumn's activated, oil-soaking sponge can remove both types, without harming fish-life, and, perhaps equally as important, the spilled oil can be recovered for its original, intended use.
  • Timothy Drinkall: Second Place in Physical Sciences, and an opportunity to compete at ISEF; Increasing Aerofoil Lift via Artificial Amplification of the Coanda Effect using Heat. Timothy demonstrated that the heating of an airliner's wing structure, using waste-heat from the turbine engine, could cause the air that passes along the top of the wing to "stick" to its entire surface, front to back, thereby decreasing "drag" by more than 64%. This would have a major, positive impact on an airliner's fuel efficiency, and would dramatically decrease the possibility of a stall during flight, which allows for safer air travel.
  • Ambika Grover: First Place in Life Sciences and First Place in Biotechnology, and two opportunities to compete at ISEF; Rapid, Noninvasive, Fluorescence-Based Detection for Elevated Levels of Nitric Oxide in Exhaled Breath, As a Marker for Hazardous PM2.5 Exposure. Ambika created a portable, smartphone-based detection system for 2.5 micron (tiny) particulate matter, which is the fine dust in the air that is often unseen, and leads to severe respiratory illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and others. Using Ambika's system, which detects nitrous oxide (or NO) in one's breath due to PM2.5 exposure, one can evaluate one's exposure as safe, medium, or high hazard in only seconds, and view their result in real-time as a function of their GPS location, to look for trends in exposure due to man-made activities (such as factory exhaust, construction debris in the air, forest-fire smoke, etc.).
  • Hannah Goldenberg: Second Place in Life Sciences, and an opportunity to compete at ISEF; Linking Continued Exposure to E-cigarette Vapor Constituents with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Hannah's research found direct correlation between smoking of e-cigarettes and the development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). By exposing human lung epithelial cells to e-cigarette vapor, she found a measurable increase in the genetic markers that indicate onset of COPD. Later, using genetically-modified fruit flies, Hannah saw a decrease in motor function, disruption of sleep cycle, and decrease in lifetime of those flies subjected to e-cigarette smoke, as well as their offspring that were "non-smokers," quite similar in fact experiments with traditional cigarette smoke.
  • Halla Clausi: First Place in Engineering, and an opportunity to compete at ISEF; Colorimetric Smartphone-Based Detection of Salivary SOD2 on Photonic Opal Structures for the Rapid Diagnosis of Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Recent research highlighted that SOD2 (a protein biomarker) is present in saliva for those that are afflicted with liver cancer. In response to this exciting discovery, Halla developed a unique opal crystal sensor that change colors, when exposed to drops to saliva containing SOD2. A patient can be diagnosed as normal, onset liver cancer, or progressive stages of liver cancer in only seconds, using a smartphone image.

Including these five 2021 ISEF-eligible students, GHS has sent an incredible 46 students to ISEF in the past 14 years.

In addition to these ISEF winners, numerous other research students received notable recognition at CSEF on Saturday. They are, in alphabetical order:

  • Sam Florin: First Place in Mathematics: Generalized Correction of Spatially and X-Z Correlated Errors through Adaptive Minimum-Weight Perfect Matching Topological Algorithm
  • Prathit Kurup: Second Place in Biotechnology: Role of ICAM-1 in Facilitating Leukocyte Migration Across the Blood-Brain Barrier in the Progression of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Ella Moore: Fifth Place in Life Sciences: Inhibition of Covid-19 Respiratory Complications Via an R-954 Peptide Bradykinin 1 Receptor Antagonist
  • Uma Pendkar: First Place in Environmental Sciences: Low-Pressure Application of Metal Nanoparticles to Soybean Seeds to Provide Increased Resistance to Fusarium Oxysporum
  • Yurika Sakai: Second Place in Engineering, and a Regeneron $500 Award: Prolonged, Smart Treatment of Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria of Chronic Wounds via an EGCG-AgNP HydroMed Dressing

And in addition to the impressive performance by these GHS students, EMS student, Zara Haque was the only middle school student in Greenwich Public Schools to participate in this fair, winning two first place prizes for her work. Zara won first place in Life Sciences and first place in the CT Science Teacher Association. This recognition provides Zara with the opportunity to compete in the Broadcom Masters National Fair.

Zara's project was: Can trust kill? Covid-19 and Social Capital. Its abstract includes: "Covid-19 is the most critical issue facing humanity right now. It is vital to conduct research on the factors that contribute to Covid-19 cases and deaths so that we can better understand which populations and communities are most vulnerable to this virus. My project investigates whether 'Social Capital' is correlated with Covid-19 cases and deaths. Social Capital measures the amount of trust and web of connections among members of a community or region. Using county-level data from the US Senate and The New York Times, I used multivariate regressions to statistically test the relationship between Covid cases/deaths and Social Capital. After controlling for Income, Diabetes, Minorities, Density & %65 years old+, I found that Social Capital has a positive and statistically significant correlation with Covid cases and deaths. The component of Social Capital that is most strongly correlated with Covid cases and deaths is Family Unity. Overall, my findings indicate that a potential downside of high social trust is that it may lead to greater transmission of Covid-19. These results will be of interest to policymakers and healthcare providers in the fight against Covid-19."

EMS Science Teacher Ms. Jessica Iannacone shared, "Zara shared her impressive research, all of which was completed outside of school hours, and I'm so proud of the recognition she received for this important work."

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