After months of persistence and dedication, the winners of the school science fair traveled to Gainesville for the 54th Florida Regional Junior Science, Engineering and Humanities Symposium (JSEHS) at the University of Florida from Jan. 29 -31.
“The objective of this event is to foster science research among middle and high school students by allowing them to present their research,” senior Padmavathi Reddy said. “It’s done either through a talk or a research poster to judges, who are scientists with expertise in the field of research that the student is pursuing.”
Reddy spent six weeks over the summer at the University of Florida to work on her project which involves developing nitration biocatalysts that improve many chemical-producing industrial processes.
“Since this reaction is very inefficient right now, this study aimed to optimize its function. In the end, the research was successful as the results showed increased efficiency,” she said.
At JSEHS, the competitions are divided into four parts: the non-competitive speaker session, the non-competitive poster session, the competitive speaker session and the competitive poster session. With her project, Reddy was recognized as a finalist for the competitive speaking category along with junior Nithya Kasarla, whose project involved heavy metal pollution, but neither won awards. Sophomore Mikhal Ben-Joseph won in the non-competitive poster category, and junior Stefan Abi-Karam and senior Suganth Kannan won honorable mentions in the competitive poster category.
“ I really enjoyed the trip a lot, especially since it’s my last one,” Reddy said. “The lab visits, the speaker competition where everyone came out to support, and also going to see everyone present their science fair boards was an amazing experience, one that I’ll never forget.”