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Research Focusing on Alzheimer's Disease Wins Tidewater Science Fair

Jessica Lee with her poster describing the winning project

A biochemistry project related to the study of Alzheimer's disease won the First Grand Prize for a York County high school student at Saturday's Tidewater Science Fair on the Old Dominion University campus.

Jessica Lee's research, "The Effect of Amyloid Beta on Protein SUMOylation in Mouse Astrocytes," was sponsored by teacher Amy Holtschneider at York High School.

The work impressed Lesley Greene, ODU assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, whose research includes studies involving proteins and Alzheimer's disease. Greene judged junior division projects, and not the senior division in which Lee competed. "But I did look over her poster and talked to her, and it was great," Greene said. "Miss Lee conducted this research in a lab at Columbia University."

The Second Grand Prize went to Young-Ah Lee, a student at the Governor's School for Science and Technology/New Horizons Regional Education Center, Hampton. Her research, under the supervision of Kam W. Tang, was titled "The Impact of Temperature and Food Availability on the Viability of the Early Developmental Stages of the Marine Copepod Acartia tonsa."

Three-hundred-thirty students (who produced 276 projects) in grades 6-12 from throughout southeastern Virginia competed in the March 13 science fair. This 59th annual fair was organized by the Tidewater Science Congress.

Participation was open to students in public and private schools, as well as those who are home educated, from Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Gloucester, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City County, Southampton County, Franklin and Accomack County.

During the morning, ODU faculty and staff presented a college admissions program as well as a program and tour sponsored by the ODU College of Sciences and Batten College of Engineering and Technology.

The fair follows rules of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and accepts exhibits from the following categories: animal sciences, behavioral and social sciences, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, earth and planetary science, electrical and mechanical engineering, materials engineering and bioengineering, energy and transportation, environmental sciences, mathematical sciences, medicine and health sciences, microbiology, physics and astronomy, and plant sciences.

First place winners in the high school division of the regional fair are expected to advance to the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair April 2-3, also on the ODU campus. The grand prize winners at the Tidewater fair, as well as top winners at the state fair, are guaranteed entry to the International Science and Engineering Fair to be held in San Jose, Calif., May 9-15.

The executive director of the Tidewater Science Fair, Danny Peters, said, more students than ever before competed in Saturday's regional fair. He had to recruit 115 category judges to handle the number of entries, about 10 percent more than last year. "We owe a debt of gratitude to all of the judges and volunteers who help make this happen," Peters added.

Judges came from area colleges and universities and public schools, NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia Air & Space Center, municipal utility/engineering departments, Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Surry Nuclear Power Station, military commands, Virginia Zoological Park, and companies such as Northrop Grumman and CW Optics Inc.

Other awards from the Tidewater fair:

• First Award of Excellence in the Senior Division -- Katelyn Jenkins, "Hemolysis in the Animal Pathogen Streptococcus parauberis," York High School.

• Second Award of Excellence in the Senior Division -- Abigail Chen, "The Effect of Year-Round Weather Conditions on Atmospheric Haze," York High School.

• First Award of Excellence in the Junior Division -- Evan Turner, "Antimicrobial Susceptibility of Antibacterial Wipes with Staphylococcus epidermidis and E. Coli," Princess Anne Middle School, Virginia Beach.

• Second Award of Excellence in the Junior Division -- Thomas Carey, "Hovercraft in the Backyard," Jones Magnet Middle School, Hampton.

This article was posted on: March 15, 2010

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