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Rep. Jim Himes and World-Renowned Astronomer Dr. Heidi Hammel Address Hundred of Students, Judges, Teachers and Community Members

Greenwich, CT, February 7, 2011 – Over 300 students and judges were joined by Rep. Jim Himes and world-renowned astronomer Dr. Heidi Hammel at the 11th Annual Southern Connecticut Invitational Science & Engineering Fair (SCISEF). Completed projects and research proposals were presented by students from high schools in Darien, Greenwich, Westport and Woodbridge on Saturday, February 5th at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich. The Fair was sponsored by the Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Foundation (CTSTEM).

“The mission of CTSTEM is to inspire students,” said William Foster II, President of CTSTEM.  “But with your creativity and commitment, you’ve inspired us!” Mr. Foster also noted the words from President Obama’s State of the Union address: “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.”

Each student was required to create an exhibit, make a presentation, and participate in a question and answer session. Volunteer judges evaluated entries (both completed projects and research proposals) in four categories: life sciences, physical sciences, environmental sciences and behavioral sciences. The judges came from Ansonia, Bethany, Bethlehem, Bridgeport, Danbury, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Hamden, Middletown, Milford, Monroe, New Haven, Newtown, Norwalk, Old Greenwich, Orange, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Sandy Hook, Shelton, Southbury, Southport, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Weston and Westport, Connecticut, and Brewster, Eastchester, Hawthorne, Merrick, New York, Pelham, Scarsdale and Valhalla, New York.

Rep. Jim Himes spoke to the crowd of students, judges, volunteers, school officials, parents and other members of the community about the important job organizations like CTSTEM play today. “America was number one in math, science and technology. In some areas we still are, but in many others we find ourselves back in the pack – we need to catch up,” he said. “For the sake of our national security, economic development and global competitiveness, we must do better and we will with students like those here today.”

Rep. Himes introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Heidi Hammel, Executive Vice President of AURA (Association of American Universities for Research in Astronomy) and co-Director of Research at the Space Science Institute. Her accomplishments include leading the Hubble Space Telescope Team that investigated the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter.

Dr. Hammel’s rousing address was entitled, “Mission, Myths and Free Advice.”  She provided an insider’s view of some real space missions, some of the myths that abound regarding science and scientists, and advice based on her own experiences as a scientist working in today’s world. “Be brave, don’t be intimidated,” she exhorted. “If you like it, try it. You can learn math and science just by trying and working hard – you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to be a great scientist!”

2011 SCISEF winners:

Behavioral Science Proposals

1st Place (tie) – Brooke Davis (Darien HS) “Vocalizations in Captive Bottlenose Dolphins”

1st Place (tie) – Jackson Yang (Staples HS) “The Effect of Volume of Background Music on Cognitive Task Performance”

3rd Place – Reed Morgan (Darien HS) “Neanderthal Incursions into North Africa”

Honorable Mention – Matt Smith (Staples HS) “Memory and Recollection of Goldfish”

Environmental Science Proposals

1st Place – Krystyna Miles (Convent of the Sacred Heart) “The Effect of Construction on the Saugatuck River Watershed”

2nd Place – Kate Ferguson (Darien HS) “The Effect of Nassau Grouper on the Lionfish Populations of the U.S. Atlantic Coast and Caribbean Region”

3rd Place – Olivia Taylor (Darien HS) “Searching for the Perfect Coral Experiment”

Honorable Mention (tie) – Stephanie Viola (Convent of the Sacred Heart) “Heavy Metal and Toxin Uptake in Vegetables Grown in Soil from Urban, Suburban and Rural Areas”

Honorable Mention (tie) – Morgan Kennedy (Convent of the Sacred Heart) “An Investigation into Alternative Biofuels for Developing Nations”

Health Science Proposals

1st Place – Katie Colford (Convent of the Sacred Heart) “The Effectiveness of Colchicine Nanoparticles to Treat Malignant Gliomas”

2nd Place – Isabel Baker (Staples HS) “The Effect of Over-Expression of E-Cadherin on Megakaryocyte Differentiation”

3rd Place (tie) – Aastha Narula (Darien HS) “The Use of Bilayered Scaffold Materials in Regenerative Medicine”

3rd Place (tie) – Katie Cioe (Staples HS) “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Sifting Through the Risk Factors”

3rd Place (tie) – Nicole Granath (Darien HS) “Determining and Comparing the Prevalence of CD8+ CD4- TCR+ Intraepithelial Lymphocytes in the Small Intestine of People with Active Celiac Disease, Celiac Patients on a Gluten-Free Diet, and Control Patients”

Physical Science Proposals

1st Place – Will DeRocco (Darien HS) “A Search for Stable Strange Quark Matter with the AMS-02”

2nd Place – Jason Lustbader (Staples HS) “Finding Correlation Between the Twin Peaks Phenomenon and the Orbital Period in the Low Mass X-Ray Binaries”

3rd Place – Chris FIncher (Staples HS) “The Effect of Oblique Wing Designs on Aerodynamic Efficiency”

Honorable Mention (tie) – Michael Menz (Staples HS) “Using Differential Equations to Model the Growth and Distribution of Bacteria in a Culture”

Honorable Mention (tie) – Robert Mahieu (Staples HS) “Multicolored Quantum Dot-Based Light-Emitting Diodes (QD-LEDs) Utilizing Highly Monodisperse CdSe/ZnS/Shell Nanocrystals”

Behavioral Science Completed Projects

1st Place – Joan Kim (Amity HS) “Effective Information Communication to Teens”

2nd Place (tie) – Ehsan Khan (Amity HS) “Creating and Maintaining Stress in a Clinical Environment Using Arithmetic”

2nd Place (tie) – Mary Liguori (Convent of the Sacred Heart) “Not a Teacher, But  Teen: The Ultimate Model for Improving Nutrition in Elementary Aged Children”

Honorable Mention – Jennifer Dalecki (Amity HS) “The Relationship Between Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Cognitive Performance”

Environmental Science Completed Projects

1st Place (tie) – Andrew Chen (Amity HS) “Surface Tension on the Detergency of Oil on Feathers”

1st Place (tie) – Dana Howe (Darien HS) “A Study on Egg Fertility Rate in Leatherback Sea Turtle Clutches Over the Nesting Season (March-June) at the Pacuare Reserve, Costa Rica”

3rd Place – Brian Liang (Amity HS) “The Effect of Tree Chemicals on Ant Behavior”

Honorable Mention – Mary Furth (Convent of the Sacred Heart) “Using the Narcotic Properties of the Geranium as an Earth Friendly Way of Controlling Darkling Beetle and Tobacco Hornworm Populations”

Health Science Completed Projects

1st Place – Carly Sobecki (Convent of the Sacred Heart) “Fabrication and Examination of Nanoparticles Made from Various Ratios of Polymers Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) and Poly-Beta amino esters for use in Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis”

2nd Place – John Solder (Staples HS) “KCNQ Channels in Prefrontal Pyramidal Neurons: A Novel Target for Cognitive Enhancement”

3rd Place – Katie Critelli (Darien HS) “The Efficacy of C3 Carbon Fullerene in Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases”

Honorable Mention – Griffin Katz (Staples HS) “The Effect of Light Emitting Diode Irradiation of Proliferation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells”

Physical Science Completed Projects

1st Place – Yuri Lenskiy (Staples HS) “Modeling an Optimal Receiver for a Binary Quantum Channel Using Information Theory”

2nd Place – Satish Bhat (Amity HS) “Using Polycaprolactone for Tissue Engineering”

3rd Place – Emma Tuzinkiewicz (Darien HS) “The Efficacy of Identifying Asteroids of the 40” Schmidt Telescope”

Honorable Mention – Andrew Maubouissin (Darien HS) “Differentiating Skill and Luck in Financial Markets with Streaks”

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