Science research students win big at FJAS

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FJAS and science research director Mrs. Leya Joykutty looks on as senior Larissa Ma presents her work. “Being Research Director of AHS is one of the most enjoyable things that I do. The creativity, intelligence, work ethic and personality of the students I work with makes every day new and exciting,” Mrs. Joykutty said. (Photo/Ella Gohari)

The Florida Junior Academy of Science (FJAS) Speaker and Poster competition provides young scientists across the state with the opportunity to present their research to a panel of experienced judges and like-minded peers. The most recent iteration of this competition took place virtually March 12, organized by Heritage’s very own Mrs. Leya Joykutty.

In order to qualify for the competition, students had to go through a vetting process where their abstract and paper were reviewed by a committee. Eligible students were invited to present their research either as a speaker or using a poster in the most relevant category, whether that be environmental, physical, behavioral, literary or biological sciences. All research students at Heritage were obliged to submit their abstracts and paper for initial judging and many were accepted for presentation. 

During the competition, speakers spoke virtually to the judges and other students via Zoom with the aid of PowerPoint slides. Poster presentations were prepared beforehand, but presenters were available for live chat questions with judges or students.

“Preparing the project competition virtually required us to collect all student documents ahead of time in order to prepare the website. Links had to be made and posted in advance and meeting links had to be synchronized to allow for the effective deployment of concurrent sessions. Creativity had to come into place to determine how to make poster sessions interactive so that students and judges could be able to talk to each other,” Mrs. Joykutty said.

During the awards ceremony, students saw their hard work pay off as Heritage sweeped the categories. Here are the winners:

Environmental Poster:

First Place – Emir Sahin, sophomore

Medical Poster:

Honorable Mention – Malcolm Owusu, sophomore

Fourth Place – Likhitha Selvan, freshman

Third Place – Shrika Kantipudi, sophomore

First Place – Amarachukwu Okpala, sophomore

Biological Poster:

Honorable Mention – Calvin Matthew, freshman

Third Place – Prateek Gupta, senior

Medical Poster

Second Place – Alejandra Abramson, junior

Medical Speaker:

Third Place – Maya Neeranjun, junior

First Place – Jacob Federici, sophomore

Environmental Speaker:

Third Place – Melodi Fugate, sophomore

Behavioral Speaker:

Honorable Mention – Emilin Matthew, senior

Second Place – Ellaheh Gohari, sophomore

First Place – Larissa Ma, senior

Middle School:

Second Place – Anagha Iyer, eighth

Winners will be nominated to the American Junior Academy of Science conference where they can present their research on a national  scale.

Junior Ella Gohari is entering her third year on the Patriot Post staff and second year as co-Print-Editor-in-Chief. After co-leading the Patriot Post last year, she is excited to continue taking the Patriot Post to new heights in the year ahead. She has done research with Mrs. Joykutty since 6th grade, and is now editor-in-chief of the Sigma Xi Science Society’s magazine. On weekends, she volunteers with Village Book Builders and OTTER to teach underprivileged children, and is also peer tutor chair for the Science National Honor Society. She hopes you enjoy your time reading the Patriot Post.