The Student Academy of Science fosters interaction between student researchers and scientists. The NCSAS competition is distinctive in requiring both a paper and an oral presentation, much like a professional science conference. The competition also provides an opportunity for students to receive constructive feedback from research scientists who judged their projects. Students who place first in their category at NCSAS are invited to attend the national American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, where they present their work to their peers, scientists and science enthusiasts from across the country. These students represent North Carolina and are inducted into the American Junior Academy of Science.
In 2011, there was no representation at the North Carolina Student Academy of Science from the western region. The western region, also known as District 8, includes Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, and Yancey counties.
In 2012, three TIME 4 Real Science students from Transylvania County competed in the NC Western Region Student Academy of Science, advancing to the state and national meetings. Kaitlin McCreery presented her work on the “Investigation of the germination of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis zoospores at low cell densities,” where she explored cellular mechanisms of Bd fungus, the pathogen killing amphibians world-wide. Kris Petterson and Erika Williams presented their research on the “Isolation, identification and characterization of endophytes from Cherokee medicinal plants.” Endophytes are bacteria or fungi that live symbiotically within or between the cell walls of plants, conferring a competitive advantage on their hosts. These young women scientists were inducted into AJAS at the historic Boston Library.
In 2013, thirteen students from the TIME program presented their work at the western region meeting of the Student Academy of Science. All thirteen advanced to the state competition, with one team advancing to the national meeting. Abby Williams and Carly Onnink presented their work on “Olfactometer Assays to Determine an Effective Pheromone Trap Bait for the Bean Plataspid,” a new invasive stink bug in Transylvania County. They were inducted into AJAS at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History.
In 2014, twenty-one students from Transylvania County’s TIME program and three students from Robbinsville High School competed at the western region meeting of the Student Academy of Science. All twenty-four students advanced to the state competition, with one team advancing to the national meeting. Lianne Duscio and Garland Joseph competed with their project, “Antioxidant and anti-tumor effects of the berries from Elaeagnus umbellata and Lindera benzoin,” in which they explored medicinal properties of both native and invasive species. Duscio and Joseph were inducted into AJAS in San Jose, California.
On February 27, 2105, twenty-two Transylvania County TIME students and seven students from Asheville High School’s SILSA program participated in the western region Student Academy of Science competition. All students will advance to the state competition in March.
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).
Our final experiment was done today. We tried some new primers on our LAMP assay. They work better than anything we tried before. It’s a success! We finished our paper today also. It still needs some tweaking but we got it done. Sam and I have officially created the fastest detection method ever created for downy mildew. A lot of things can happen after seven hours in the TIME room.
Ryu and I have been working hard to align the final steps of our project. We made twenty four containers containing sterile dirt. We are then going to put different measurements of lead in each of them. After that we are going to introduce the two species of fungi that we found at Duke Energy. If the fungi grow we will then add earthworms into the soil to help them bioremediate the lead out of the soil.
For the past three weeks Lauren has been looking in to the stereoscope at many adelgids from each branch, looking to see if they are alive or dead. The results were not very positive, for a different reason than we weren’t expecting. Yes most of the adelgid that was checked were dead but there were way too many variables playing into why they were dead such as; the antibiotic worked in killing them, most of the vials liquid went below where the branch end could reach, or because almost all the vials had some form of bacteria or fungi in them. This realization kind of put a bruise in our project but it sets us up well for future projects.
It has been over three weeks now so on the just passed Monday and Tuesday, Ally and I looked at our trial one set of vials. As expected, all the adelgid we checked on the branch from the Imodacloprid vial were dead, and all the adelgid on the negative control vial were still alive and the branch looked healthy as if we had just picked it. Where as the Imodacloprid branch seemed to be dying. As for our other vials, the results were not what we expected or hoped they would be but we are still thinking positive about them. They were in between positive and negative results.
After weeks of building cages, gathering dirt, and preparing habitats, our group is finally going to be able to start with testing by tomorrow, seeing as we will be getting our most important element of our project; Stevia. Hopefully, now that our prep work (for the most part) is done, fly cages being the main exception, we will be able to dry down our plants, and make extracts to prepare for our assays.
Over the past couple of days, Hannah, Ingrid, and Aaron (aka HIA) have been at work completing the “suck-a-bee” in order to collect bees. We have cut out and applied tubing and such in order to collect bees for nosema testing. It seems to work perfectly with no problems. The bees will be sucked up into it and be trapped in a mason jar (Beez in the Trap). Along with it, we have now acquired bee suits to go visit and collect bees inside of hives. We are now prepared to go out into the field, we just need to know where to go. Until we have our hive sites chosen, we plan to do further research and prepare for testing. HIA is ready to proceed to the next level!
The worm part of our project is just getting started. The red earthworms just arrived and are ready to be subjected to coal ash filled with heavy metals. The specific earthworm (Eisenia fetida) Ryu and I chose is known to be able to withstand a wide range of environment conditions and fluctuation. The worms will be used for vermiremediation, the process in which earthworms remove toxins from the soil through bioacumulation, of the heavy metals in the coal ash.