Thirty-five Missouri high schoolers received a Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Science last week from UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Some of the best and brightest high school juniors from around the St. Louis area were honored last week by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Thirty-five Missouri high schoolers received a Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Science at the third annual ceremony held Feb. 12 in the Millennium Student Center on UMSL’s North Campus.

The students were chosen for the honor by their respective high schools. They had to have good grades and demonstrate outstanding capabilities in the sciences.

Students, their parents and teachers were treated to dinner and a piano performance by UMSL Chancellor and jazz aficionado Tom George. Guests heard former Sen. Jean Carnahan read a proclamation issued by Gov. Jay Nixon on science education. The keynote speaker was Michael Nichols, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMSL. He gave a speech titled “Proteins Behaving Badly in Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Nichols has led a team of researchers in the characterization of a small protein that is the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. This protein has a unique property in that it self-associates with itself to form larger species that lead to the death of brain cells.

STEM refers to the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

“Accomplishments in the STEM disciplines represent an essential component for America’s future,” said Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “As a nation we need to nurture and support those students who will be the leaders in advancing our knowledge of those disciplines. By honoring students who have demonstrated truly outstanding capabilities in the sciences we are helping to reinforce the importance of these areas of study and research.”

Recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Science are:

Affton High School
Paige Smith

Brentwood High School
Jack Wright

Cardinal Ritter College Prep School
Deondre Strickland-Irvin

Chaminade College Prep. School
Marty Schwarze

Christian Brothers College High School
Joseph Lupo

Clayton High School
Noah Youkilis
Aaron Argyres

Crossroads College Prep. School
Ben Williams

Duchesne High School
Anna Fitts

Eureka High School
Chester Montefering

Fort Zumwalt North
Alexander Schlemeier

Fort Zumwalt South
Sree Datla

Fort Zumwalt West
Olivia Gautier

Fox High School
Adam Thompson

Francis Howell High School
Haley Crosby

Francis Howell North High School
Courtney Vishy

Gateway High School
Timothy Mahood

Jennings High School
Jessica Killen

Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School
John O’Keefe

Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School
Kristin Geczi

Metro Academic & Classical High School
Jordan Banks

Nerinx Hall High School
Madison Hetlage

Normandy High School
Tedrah Ringo

Rosati-Kain High School
Gabrielle Melillo

St. Charles West High School
Luke Jackson

St. Dominic High School
Daniel Sprehe

St. John Vianney High School
Jack Lyons

St. Louis University High School
Sam Beckmann

St. Mary’s High School
Christopher Cain

Troy Buchanan High School
Morgan Grandon

University City High School
Deja Bowie

Villa Duchesne & Oak Hill School
Victoria Ip

Visitation Academy
Komal Kumar

Wentzville Holt High School
Kayla Ann Marie Calvillo

Westminster Christian Academy
Anna Lindstrom

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