UW-Madison: Top regional high school students to participate in international science fair

CONTACT: Todd Allen, 608-265-4083, [email protected]

MADISON – Two Madison high school students earned top honors in the third annual Capital Science and Engineering Fair, held Feb. 28 on the University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering campus.

A fair veteran, James Madison Memorial High School senior Suvai Gunasekaran earned the fair grand prize with her project, “Determining Biological Function of New Bacterial Proteins for Drug Discovery.” Under the mentorship of Wayne F. Anderson of Northwestern University, Gunasekaran hoped to develop new, highly specific inhibitors against proteins secreted by Bacillus subtilis and Streptococcus pneumoniae as potential targets for new drugs.

Madison West High School student Samuel Greene placed runner-up with his project, “Latitudinal Comparison of Plant Traits in Wisconsin.” Greene examined forest species in Wisconsin across a latitudinal cline to determine how they would be affected by climate change.

Both students earned trips to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, held May 10-15 in Reno, Nev. The world’s largest pre-college celebration of science, the fair annually draws nearly 1,500 students from more than 40 nations.

An affiliate of the Badger State Science and Engineering Fair, the Capital Science and Engineering Fair provides high school students from eight counties in south-central Wisconsin the opportunity to showcase their research. All Capital fair participants – and any other high school students who wish to – can enter their research projects in the Badger State fair, held Saturday, March 28, at Marquette University.

Participants in the fair included students from Madison Memorial and Madison West high schools and New Glarus High School. In addition to the grand prize and runner-up, several students also earned additional awards.

Category awards:

– Physical and Animal Science:

First place (sponsored by Berbee Technology Education Foundation): Samuel Greene, Madison West High School, for “Latitudinal Comparison of Plant Traits in Wisconsin.”

Second place (sponsored by Imago Scientific Instruments): Suman Gunasekaran, James Madison Memorial High School, for “Tennis Balls – Are They Good or Bad?”

Third place (sponsored by Alliant Energy): Chiting Clara Chow, James Madison Memorial High School, for “Nutrient Removal in Photosynthetic Wastewater Treatment.”

– Medicine and Biochemistry:

First place (sponsored by Mensa of Wisconsin Foundation): Suvai Gunasekaran, Madison Memorial High School, for “Determining Biological Function of New Bacterial Proteins for Drug Discovery.”

Second place (sponsored by Promega Corp.): Bennett Mortensen, Madison West High School, for “Silver-Diamond Catalyzed Carbon-Dioxide Photoreduction.”

Third place (sponsored by University Research Park): Susan Huang, Madison West High School, for “Developing a Method to Culture Eukaryotic Cells in Biofilm Matrix.”

Fourth place (sponsored by Madison Gas & Electric): Runqi Song, Madison West High School, for “Synthesis of New Silylenes.”

– Best Underclassman Award (sponsored by Thermal Spray Technologies inc.): Suman Gunasekara

– Best Team Award (sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Madison West): Alexis Krueger, Markus Nevil, Victoria Troxler, New Glarus High School, for “Air Pressure Projectiles.”

Special awards

– American Meteorological Society (best exhibit related to atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrological sciences): Bennett Mortensen

– ASM Materials Education Foundation (most outstanding exhibit in materials science): Runqi Song

– I-SWEEP (outstanding sustainability award for the best exhibit displaying themes of environmental sustainability and innovation in engineering, energy and the environment): Bennett Mortensen, Samuel Greene

– I-SWEEP (sustainability award for the best exhibit displaying themes of environmental sustainability and innovation in engineering, energy and the environment): Chiting Clara Chow, Susan Huang

– Mu Alpha Theta (best exhibit related to modern mathematics): Suman Gunasekaran

– National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (project that emphasizes NOAA’s mission to understand and predict changes in Earth’s environment and to conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation’s economic, social and environmental needs): Samuel Greene

– National Society of Professional Engineers (best exhibit related to engineering): team of Alexis Krueger, Markus Nevil and Victoria Troxler

– Office of Naval Research (projects best showing understanding of the subject and scientific process): Suvai Gunasekaran and Runqi Song

– Patti and Richard Blomquist Charitable Trust Award (grade 7 through 11 first-year participant in science, technology, engineering and mathematics): Suman Gunasekaran

– Ricoh Sustainable Development Award (entry whose principles and technical innovations offer the greatest potential for increasing our ability to grow environmentally friendly and socially responsible businesses): Bennett Mortensen

– Society for In Vitro Biology (outstanding 11th-grade student exhibiting in plant or animal in vitro biology or tissue culture): Susan Huang

– Stockholm Junior Water Prize (best water-related science projects): Chiting Clara Chow

– United States Air Force (best senior exhibits in engineering, environmental sciences, mathematics, computer sciences, life sciences and physical sciences): Chiting Clara Chow, Suvai Gunasekaran, Bennett Mortensen, Runqi Song

– United States Army (best project in engineering, environmental sciences, mathematics and computer science, life sciences, and physical sciences): Chiting Clara Chow, Suman Gunasekaran, Suvai Gunasekaran, Bennett Mortensen

– United States Metric Association (best exhibit involving a significant amount of quantitative measurement and which best uses the SI metric system for those measurements): Suman Gunasekaran

– Yale University Science and Engineering Association (best 11th-grade exhibit in computer science, engineering, physics or chemistry): Bennett Mortensen

Fair sponsors include Madison Gas & Electric, Thermal Spray Technologies Inc., Berbee Technology Education Foundation, Promega Corp., Madison Section of the IEEE, University Research Park, Mensa of Wisconsin Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Madison West, Imago Scientific Instruments, Alliant Energy and Invitrogen.