Nearly 90 high school students took part in the 2014 STARS program at UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Thirty aspiring scientists have been rewarded for a summer of hard work at the Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) Program.

The teenage scientists were part of a larger group that spent six weeks conducting intensive research with St. Louis-area professionals and professors as part of the program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The 30 high school students have been named winners of the LMI Aerospace Inc. Award for Excellence in Research. This year 88 high school students participated in the program.

A panel of 13 outstanding scientists reviewed the papers in their area of specialty. Winning papers best exemplified the following qualities: difficulty and complexity of research; appropriateness of the research methodology; findings; quality of writing; and overall quality of the research process.

Whittling down the papers to a winning few wasn’t an easy task for the judges.

“The papers were of very high quality and reflect both the significant learning and value of the summer experience for these young students, some of whom may decide on careers in science,” said one of the judges.

STARS pairs academically talented, rising junior- and senior-level high school students with mentors to provide research opportunities for the participants. UMSL partners with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis and Confluence Discovery Technologies. Following six weeks of research on everything from biofuels to bumblebees, the participants presented their research papers to their peers, parents and research mentors.

Other activities include lectures by nationally known scientists, information sessions about the higher education admissions process and social events.

The winners will be recognized at an awards dinner Oct. 6 at UMSL.

Below is a complete listing of winners and their projects from the 2014 STARS program. Also listed are the winner’s school, the student’s mentor and the mentor’s university:

  • Praveen Bagavandoss, Marquette High School, “Investigating the Use of a PQQ-Aptamer Complex to Oxidize Potential Biofuels.” Dr. Dana Baum, Saint Louis University.
  • Susanna Barrett, Ladue Horton Watkins High School, “Investigation of the Effects of the Nucleoporin, AtGle1, on Seed Viability.” Dr. Wenyan Xiao, Saint Louis University.
  • Sanjay Cherupalla, Metro Academic and Classical High School, “Analyzing Tetramerization in KirBac1.1.” Dr. Decha Enkvetchakul, Saint Louis University.
  • Sanjay Elangovan, Marquette High School, “Binding Mode Determination of 4-substituted Naphthalimides Complexed with Nucleic Acids.” Dr. Brent Znosko and Ms. Liz Jolley, Saint Louis University.
  • Huayu Gao, Ladue Horton Watkins High School, “The Effects of Item-Specific and Relational Processing on Homograph False Memory with Blocked and Alternated Lists.” Dr. David Balota, Dr. Mark Huff, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Saivaroon Gajagowni, Fort Zumwalt West High School, “A Comparative Study of Gold Nanorods and Gold Nanorattles for Label-Free Plasmonic Biosensing.” Dr. Srikanth Singamaneni, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Jack Gorczyca, St. Louis Priory School, “Electronic Spectroscopy of Diatomic Molecules by Intracavity Laser Absorption Spectroscopy and Fourier Transform Emission Spectroscopy.” Dr. James O’Brien and Dr. Leah O’Brien, University of Missouri-St. Louis and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
  • Christopher Halen, Whitfield School, “The Effects of Alcohol in Decision-Making.” Dr. Aimee Dunlap, University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • Alexis Hartman, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, “The Effect of 8 Weeks of Pulmonary Rehabilitation on 24-Hour ECG Derived Measures of Circadian Rhythm, Sleeping, and Napping, in Patients with Severe COPD.” Dr. Phyllis Stein, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Caleb Hill, Crossroads College Preparatory School, “Analyzing Tetramerization in KirBac1.1.” Dr. Decha Enkvetchakul, Saint Louis University.
  • Davis Johnston, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, “Role of hrcV Gene in Xanthomonas axonopodis pv manihotis (Xam).” Dr. Rebecca Bart, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
  • Joshua Kazdan, John Burroughs School, “Assessing the Feasibility of Using Photoelectron Imaging to Probe Electronic Structure in Cu Cluster Anions: a Preliminary Study.” Dr. Richard Mabbs, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Nathan Kulczak, Barat Academy, “The Synthesis and Infrared Characterization of a Photomagnetic Square.” Dr. Stephen Holmes and Mr. Quiggins, University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • Poornaashri Malarvannan, Marquette High School, “KATP Channel Mutations in Mice Models Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus (NDM).” Dr. Maria Remedi and Dr. Colin Nichols, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Stephen Mattingly, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School,Examining the Activity of Pgp and BCRP via Fluorescence Microscopy.” Dr. Vijay Sharma, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Sally Nijim, Willowbrook High School (Villa Park, Ill.), “The Role of the Transcription Factor Atonal Homolog 8 in Erythropoiesis and Iron Homeostasis.” Dr. Robert Fleming, Saint Louis University.
  • Filip Ponjevic, Lafayette High School, “A Comparative Study of Gold Nanorods versus Gold Nanorattles for Label-Free Plasmonic Biosensing.” Dr. Srikanth Singamaneni, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Adeel Qayum, Ladue Horton Watkins High School, “Ability of Jurisdictions to Dispense Mass Medical Countermeasures During a Biological Disaster Using Open Points of Dispensing (PODs): A National Study.” Dr. Terri Rebmann, Saint Louis University.
  • Eesha Sabherwal, Parkway North High School, “Evaluating Pose Determination Using LED Imaging.”  Dr. Michael Swartwout, Saint Louis University.
  • Danielle Eve Serota, Parkway Central High School, “Effect of Caffeine on Neonatal Neurobehavioral Development.” Dr. Roberta Pineda, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Chloe Stallion, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, “The Potential Interactions between Kermit and Snx27 with Echinoid in Drosophila.” Dr. Susan Spencer and Qian Nie, Saint Louis University.
  • Stephanie Strothkamp, Westminster Christian Academy, “Structural Integrity of Cortico-Limbic Networks in Preschool Onset Depression.” Dr. Deanna Barch, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Clara Sun, Parkway West High School, “Comparison of Nutrient and Growth Requirements between Glutathione-Deficient and Wild Type Group B Streptococcus.” Dr. Blythe Janowiak, Saint Louis University.
  • Michelle Tang, John Burroughs School, “The Effect of Parent Engagement in the NICU on Neonatal Stress.” Dr. Roberta Pineda, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Anthony Ton, Ladue Horton Watkins High School, “Construction of Thioglycoside Building Blocks Towards the Synthesis of Globetetraosylceramide (Gb4).”  Dr. Alexei Demchenko, University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • Nevel Vaidyan, Ladue Horton Watkins High School, “Concentrations of Heavy Metals in Community Gardens of St. Louis.” Dr. Daniel E. Giammar and Zezhen Pan, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Igi Vilza, Lindbergh High School, “Verifying the Intercalation of 3-Substituted Naphthalimide Derivatives Complexed with DNA and RNA.” Dr. Brent Znosko and Elizabeth Jolley, Saint Louis University.
  • Teresa Xiao, Carbondale Community High School (Carbondale, Ill.), “Potential Formation of Intracellular Aggregates of Alpha-Synuclein Following Acute-Phase Intracranial Injections of 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde.” Dr. A. Michael Anch and Drew Albers, Saint Louis University.
  • Victoria Yi, Clayton High School, “Growth and Lipid Body Accumulation of Common Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Laboratory Strains Under Different Light Conditions.” Dr. James Umen, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
  • Kevin Zheng, Parkway South High, “In-Situ Evaluation of Multi-Band Antenna Systems.” Dr. Michael Swartwout, Saint Louis University.
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Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez

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