STARS students awarded for pre-collegiate science research

Nearly 30 of the 60 area high school students who graduated from the STARS program at UMSL were recognized with the LMI Aerospace Award for Excellence in Research. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Nearly 30 of the 60 area high school students who graduated from the STARS program at UMSL were recognized with the LMI Aerospace Award for Excellence in Research. (Photo by August Jennewein)

They came to the University of Missouri–St. Louis as aspiring scientists and left as award-winning researchers.

Nearly 30 high school students in the 2015 Students and Teachers as Research Scientists cohort have snagged an LMI Aerospace Award for Excellence in Research after presenting their research papers to their peers, parents and project mentors.

“Good, solid works approaching that of a starting grad student,” one awards judge remarked.

“I feel like I may have been a bit ‘tough’ because again overall, I thought all of the research and accomplishments were outstanding,” said a second judge.

The scientific papers are the end product of six weeks of participating in UMSL’s pre-collegiate STARS program, which pairs high school students with prominent area scientists to conduct undergraduate-level research.

UMSL partners with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis and Confluence Discovery Technologies to offer students a variety of research opportunities.

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

In its 28th year, STARS has sent on more than 2,000 students with research experience to top universities. This cohort is likely to follow suit.

The award dinner and program will follow a 6:30 p.m. reception on Oct. 19 in the Century Rooms of the Millennium Student Center.

Below is a complete listing of winners and their projects from the 2015 STARS program. Also listed are the winner’s school, the student’s mentor and the mentor’s institution:

  • Sabrina Bingham, Westminster Christian Academy.  “Heating contaminated Scottish bonnet peppers to kill Salmonella.” Dr. Blythe Janowiak, Saint Louis University.
  • Matthew Braddock, Saint Louis Priory School.  “The effectiveness of an educational intervention on Missouri’s K-12 schools’ preparedness for biological events.” Dr. Terri Rebmann, Saint Louis University.
  • Gabriel Brenner, Marquette Catholic High School.  “Nonstationary oscillations during the anodic electrodissolution of nickel.” Dr. Istvan Kiss, Saint Louis University.
  • Ramya Chengalvala, Eureka High School.  “The effects of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL) on the aggregation of alpha-synuclein.” Dr. Michael Anch, Saint Louis University.
  • Jennifer Donovan, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School.  “Sensory stimulations in the NICU.” Dr. Roberta Pineda, Washington University.
  • Gregory Farn, Ladue Horton Watkins High School. “Dynamical differentiation of chemical oscillations.” Dr. Istvan Kiss, Saint Louis University.
  • Madeleine Goedegebuure, Clayton High School.  “Effect of an ITK inhibitor and Interleukin 2 (IL2) upon T cell Proliferation and Th17 Differentiation.” Dr. Barry Burnette, Confluence Life Sciences.
  • Louisa Goldman, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School.  “The molecular basis of the contagious itch.” Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen, Washington University.
  • Rebekah Greenspan, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School.  “Live-cell imaging of phosphatidic acid and diacylglycerol distributions in plant cells visualized by lipid biosensors.” Dr. Xuemin Wang, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and University of Missouri–St. Louis.
  • Benjamin Edward Hahn, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School.  “Analyzing photoelectron distribution patterns to determine the electronic structure of the cyanide ion.” Dr. Richard Mabbs, Washington University.
  • Shu Han, Marquette High School.  “Analysis of diatomic molecules using intracavity laser spectroscopy.” Dr. James O’Brien and Dr. Leah O’Brien, University of Missouri–St. Louis, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
  • Liam Harrison, Chaminade College Preparatory School.  “Chromatographic separation of the enantiomers of α-hydroxyallylphosphonates on chiral stationary phases using sequential UV, polarimetric and refractive index detection.” Dr. Bruce Hamper, University of Missouri–St. Louis.
  • Nicole Howard, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School.  “Expression of obesity genes in a myeloma mouse model.”  Dr. Michael Thomasson, Washington University.
  • Shubhika Jain, Mt. Vernon Township High School. “Polyamide synthesis for completion of pharmacology characterization of preclinical drug candidates to prevent cervical cancer.”  Dr. James Bashkin, University of Missouri–St. Louis.
  • Pradeep Kandula, Edwardsville High School.  “Employing P-glycoprotein recognition status as a criterion for predicting blood brain barrier permeability of heterocyclic molecules.” Dr. Vijay Sharma, Washington University.
  • Haris Khan, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School.  “Effect of various ion solutions on the tetramer stability of the KirBac 1.1 ion channel.”  Dr. Decha Enkvetchakul, Saint Louis University.
  • Anastasia Lalioti, Anatolia College (Greece). “The influence of mitochondria on mutation rates in Neurospora crassa.” Dr. Jack Kennell, Saint Louis University.
  • Katherine Minorini, Whitfield School. “The extracellular effects of ascorbate on peroxidative stress in L6 and C2C12 myoblasts.” Dr. Jonathan Fisher, Saint Louis University.
  • Sai Pinni, Parkway South High School.  “Effect of Miglustat on bone mineral density of in vivo hypophosphatasia mice model.” Dr. Adriana Montaño, Saint Louis University.
  • Xuechun Qian, Clayton High School.  “Effect of carboxylic acids on δ-MnO2 and hexagonal birnessite.” Dr. Jeffrey Catalano, Washington University.
  • Pravin Sivabalan, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School.  “Techno-economic analysis of coal direct chemical looping combustion using ASPEN plus.”  Dr. Ramesh Agarwal, Washington University.
  • Pratyush Sontha, Francis Howell North High School.  “Evidence for incomplete afferent reinnervation after bilateral radiofrequency-induced renal nerve ablation in rats.” Dr. Mark Knuepfer, Saint Louis University.
  • Gayathri Srinivasan, Pattonville High School.  “Identification of older adults who will survive till advanced age by Holter- based heart rate variability and clinical status measures.”  Dr. Phyllis Stein, Washington University.
  • Haley Stelzer-Monahan, Ursuline Academy.  “Content of Marijuana Edibles Videos on YouTube.”  Dr. Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, Washington University.
  • Kyle Westendorf, Lafayette High School.  “Design and development of a three-dimensionally printed CubeSat.” Dr. Michael Swartwout, Saint Louis University.
  • Melany Yeung, Parkway West High School. “Assessing the status of thioflavin T as a substrate of P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) using live cell fluorescence imaging.”  Dr. Vijay Sharma, Washington University.
  • Bianca Yu, Ladue Horton Watkins High School.  “Enhancing expression of cardiac sodium ion channel Nav1.5.”  Dr. John Silva, Washington University.

STARS is sponsored by LMI Aerospace, the Office of the Chancellor at UMSL, SLU, WUSTL, St. Louis Symphony, DuPont Nutrition and Health, Monsanto, Academy of Science of St. Louis, Easter Seals Midwest, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, St. Louis Zoo and University of Missouri–Kansas City.

For more information about the STARS program, contact Ken Mares at 314-516-6155 or
The UMSL Experience


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