Well, Lianne Duscio and Garland Joseph do! It is through SCIENCE!
Lianne Duscio and Garland Joseph, sophomores from Brevard High School, traveled to San Jose, California last week to present their science research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting. The AAAS seeks to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” This year’s AAAS Conference was attended by over 10,000 scientists and science enthusiasts from around the country.
Duscio and Joseph presented their research at the meeting during a poster session and an oral presentation. The students were awarded the honor to attend the conference when they won first place in the Biological Sciences category at last year’s North Carolina Student Academy of Science (NCSAS) for their project, “Testing for Antioxidants, Vitamin C and Antitumor Properties of Berries from Autumn Olive and Spicebush.”
According to Duscio, the girls had many opportunities on the trip. “We were able to go to a breakfast with scientists and meet practicing scientists. It was great to hear their stories and how they got to this point in their life. It was inspiring! This could be our future too!”
Joseph agreed. “One highlight was when we got to go to Google and meet Vint Cerf, one of the ‘fathers of the internet’, and discuss the history and new innovations.”
“The speakers at the conference were amazing!” said Joseph. Dr. Gerald Fink, AAAS president, was far from the stereotypical boring lecturer. “Dr. Fink had a great sense of humor, presenting a very interesting turtle picture and a Star Trek reference as part of his scientific talk.”
Duscio added that Dr. Jamie Vernon, editor in chief of Sigma Xi’s American Scientist, “was really helpful. He gave suggestions about pursuing a life in science, and things to keep in mind as we start to make decisions about what we want to do with our lives.”
Both Duscio and Joseph said that the best part of the trip was “meeting other students from across the nation and talking to them about their projects. It was especially fun getting to know all of the students from North Carolina!” During the final banquet Duscio and Joseph were inducted into the American Junior Academy of Science (AJAS) alongside the 156 other student delegates.
Duscio and Joseph have many people to thank for their success. Retired scientist volunteer Dr. Kent Wilcox mentored the girls throughout their project. “He was so helpful with finding different assays that could be used to test our berries. We had not taken biology or chemistry when we did this project and Dr. Wilcox helped us understand the science concepts involved. Without Dr. Wilcox, none of this would have been possible.”
Jennifer Williams, the students’ science research teacher, travelled with the girls to the conference, acting as chaperone for the 12 North Carolina AJAS delegates.
Funding for the students’ trip was provided by generous donations from the Brevard chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (NCSAS sponsor).