18 Students Win 1st Place Awards at Regional Science Competition
18 Students Win 1st Place Awards at Regional Science Competition

The Episcopal Academy chapter of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) earned high awards and accolades at the PJAS Regional Meet on Saturday, February 24.

Twenty-two EA students presented their complex research projects which focused on multiple science disciplines. The work included research in the areas of biochemistry, genetics, bioinformatics, enzymology, physiology, chemistry, computer science, evolution, environmental science, physics, and neuroscience. More than 150 students from across the region competed at the event with hopes of advancing to the PJAS State Meet in May.

"PJAS has taught me determination and perseverance in my work and dedication to something that I really care about," shared Lauren Bassett '20. "Learning and growing with all the other PJAS students has made the experience that much more amazing."

"PJAS has without a doubt been one of the most intellectually stimulating programs I have gotten involved in at EA," said Sameer Saxena '20. "Not only does the program allow students to work with like-minded peers who share a passion for science, but it also offers the opportunity to more deeply explore a particular area of interest, be it ecology, behavioral science, or computer science."

The dedicated group of students has worked tirelessly on their research projects in EA's PJAS research lab throughout the school year. "We were excited to have the opportunity to present the work at the regional meet in front of peers from other schools and three judges, who are professionals in various science fields," shared Upper School science teacher and EA PJAS Director Dr. Kelley Bethoney.

Eighteen students earned a first-place award and will advance to the highly-competitive State Meet. Yvonne Chen, '21 and Raunaq Singh, '20 earned the rare distinction of Perfect Score Awards. "That honor is given to the student who flawlessly presents and defends their research to the judges," said Dr. Bethoney.

In addition to qualifying for competition at the state level, all PJAS Region 1A students compete for six special awards that recognize individual students who have demonstrated outstanding research in particular areas. This year, The Episcopal Academy won four of the six awards.

Sameer Saxena, '20 won the 2018 Exceptional Analysis Award, given to that student who shows effort above and beyond in the explanation of research results and the implication of those findings.

Raunaq Singh '20 earned the 2018 DOOR Award, which is granted to that student who creates and/or implements an innovative solution during the course of their research.

Neera Raychaudhuri '20 won the 2018 Director's Award, which recognizes that student who focuses on a complex topic, proposes a real-word application, and displays their ability to communicate complicated concepts effectively.

Sydney Zebrowitz ' 19 won the 2018 Robust Research Award, which is given to that student who takes initiative in their research, includes extensive literature reviews, and performs a high-level research project.

"I am extremely proud of my PJAS students. The effort that each of my students put forth in designing and executing their projects is evident in their results and in the feedback I received from so many of the PJAS regional judges, including the Region 1A director," said Dr. Bethoney. "These students worked tirelessly in the lab and learned to think critically and troubleshoot problems in experiments. The lab was always bustling with exciting activity. It has been a privilege to work with these talented, future scientists," said Dr. Bethoney. "I also want to thank the Clare Foundation for its support of PJAS this year."

"The program has provided me with plenty of time to work on an experiment that involves areas of sciences that fascinate me, from behavioral psychology to computer science, and collaborate with others to guarantee successful results at the competitions," explained Raunaq Singh '21. "What is truly amazing about PJAS is that everyone who is a part of it genuinely wants to be there due to an interest in science, and as a result, the lab is a center for curiosity and learning new ideas."

The Episcopal Academy Science Society will host a poster session in April to showcase the 2018 PJAS Research. Upper School science teacher Christy Rheam also advises the group.

Students who attended the 2018 Regional 1A Meet include:

Jocelyn Andrews, '20: Exploring the Enzymatic Parameters of Catalase-mediated Breakdown of hydrogen peroxide, 1st place award.

Parisa Afsharian '19: Effects of Salt Retention on Blood Flow of Lower Vertebrates, 1st place award.

Michael Bai, '20: Examining the Effect of Eyewitness Testimony Accuracy, 1st place award.

Lauren Bassett, '20: Examining the Biochemical Properties of Tardigrade-Native Damage Suppressor Protein, 1st place award.

Bella Calastri, '19: Effects of Salinity and pH on the photosynthesis rates of Scenedesmus olliquus, 1st place award.

Yvvone Chen, '21: Exploring the Development of Selective Attention Through Age, 1st place award, Perfect Score.

Minjee Cho, '19: Effects of natural remedies on stress induced brown planaria. 1st place award.

Ruth Engelman, '21: Maximizing Efficiency in Wind Turbines, 1st place award.

Jessica Hao, '19: The effect of stannous fluoride and triclosan on the growth of S. mutans, a known causative agent of cardiovascular disease, 2nd place award.

Sarah Huang, '21: The Effect of the Length of Dormancy on Physarum Polycephalum¹s Memory in the Presence of Chemorepellents, 1st place award.

Grace Haupt '20: Exploring Genes Involved in Development Drosophila Melonogaster, 1st place award.

Arielle Ketchum, '20. Heredity Fingerprint Analysis. 2nd place award.

Karissa Lim, '21: Exploring Induced Dormancy in Physarum Polycephalum, 2nd place award.

Rishab Nandan, '20: The Cost-Effective Use of Carbon Nanotubes in Concrete, 1st place award.

Sejin Park, '20: Researching P vs NP and solving an NP Problem, 1st place award

Neera Raychaudhuri '20: Improving Heart Stents with Waterbomb-based Origami Designs, 1st place award, 2018 Director's Research Award

Emma Sargent, '18: Unlocking the Secret of Sourdough: How culture composition and
feeding impacts pH and respiration
, 2nd place award.

Sameer Saxena, '20: Developing an Artificial Intelligence to Classify Emotion Across Text, Audio and Video, 1st place award, 2018 Exceptional Analysis Award.

Aarushi Singh, '21: Exploring the Effects of Mutagens and Antioxidants on Escherichia coli growth, 1st place award.

Raunaq Singh, '20: Gauge-ing the Effects of Distracted Driving, 1st place award, Perfect Score, and the 2018 DOOR Award.

Charlotte Weisman, '18: Investigating the efficacy of sulbactam in countering ampicillin resistance in E. coli, 1st place award

Sydney Zebrowitz, i19: Characterization of the expression of decapentaplegic (DPP) gene in Drosphila melanogaster, 1st place award, 2018 Robust Research Award.