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Animal Planet’s Dr. Dan Riskin Delivers Keynote at Biggest Ever SCISEF
Dr. Harry Rosvally Receives First Paul Heilman Award

Woodbridge, CT, February 4, 2012 — Over 600 students, judges and community members were joined by Dr. Dan Riskin, host of Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me at the 12th Annual Southern Connecticut Invitational Science & Engineering Fair (SCISEF) held this year at Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge. Completed projects and research proposals were presented by students from Amity Regional High School, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Darien High School, Joel Barlow High School, Hamden High School, Newtown High School and Staples High School.

SCISEF is sponsored by the Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation (CTSTEM). This year we welcomed participation for the first time by three schools, bringing to seven the number of schools participating. CTSTEM is actively encouraging future participation by additional schools, part of this effort being to subsidize participation by science teachers in a program on teaching science research at the high school level offered by the State University of New York.

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: behavioral sciences, environmental sciences, health sciences and physical sciences.

State Representative Tony Hwang, a first time judge remarked, “The quality of each exhibit was impressive and the enthusiastic and energetic presentation by each young science/engineering scholar gave hope that our community and country will ably compete in the global marketplace into the future.” Mr. Hwang added, “The tireless work of board members and volunteers made this event an incredible success. They are the true heroes in advocating science/engineering education for our kids.”

William Foster II, CTSTEM Chairman, opened the awards ceremony by welcoming the outstanding students, teachers, judges, volunteers and mentors. He also recognized outgoing CTSTEM Board member Nancy Yates for her years of helping to coordinate SCISEF with extraordinary skill and patience. Dr. Paul Oestreicher, CTSTEM President, announced that Dr. Harry Rosvally, K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Curriculum Administrator for the Danbury Public Schools, was the recipient of the first Paul Heilman award for outstanding volunteer service. Paul Heilman, who passed away in 2010, was a co-founder of CTSTEM.

Dr. Oestreicher also introduced Dr. Riskin, who delivered a compelling and entertaining address entitled, “Should I Really Consider a Career in Science?” An internationally known evolutionary biologist, Dr. Riskin told the story of his own career path, how it led him to become an expert on bat locomotion and then a TV host. Among his many lessons, he urged the students to question what they see and what others have told them, and then to question themselves before drawing any conclusions. He said science is about following ones passion, and that it’s an intellectual pursuit but “cool and awesome,” too.

The Sexauer Foundation is a major funder of SCISEF and this year’s prizes were sponsored by Laticrete International of Bethany.

2012 SCISEF Winners
Behavioral Science Proposals
1st Place
Reed Morgan (Darien HS)
“Ethnogenesis and State Formation in the Mycenaean Hither State of Pylos: A-pu2/Iklaina as a Diagnostic for Expansion of the Core Zone”

2nd Place
Lauren Wood (Convent of the Sacred Heart)
“Testing the Relationship Between the Vision of Synchronization and Rowing Effectiveness and an Increased Pain Threshold”

3rd Place
Beth Lester (Staples HS)
“The Effects of Primary Care-Giver Technology Usage on the Early Expressive Vocabulary of 18 and 24 Month Olds”

Honorable Mentions (tie)
Jackson Yang (Staples HS)
“Determining the Existence of a Parental Gender Bias and Its Effect on a Child’s Risk of Obesity”

Mark Kaminski (Darien HS)
“Ethnicity and Background Analysis for use in Individualized Facial Expression Recognition Software”

Marguerite Francois (Convent of the Sacred Heart)
“Early Communication Behaviors in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders”

Environmental Science Proposals

1st Place
Katherine Ferguson (Darien HS)
“Quantifying the Effect of Lionfish and Other Stressors on Coral Reef Ecosystems off the Coast of Southern Mexico”

2nd Place (tie)
Tucker Rizzi (Staples HS)
“Finding Efficient Water Purification With the Use of the Moringa Oleifera Seed as a Coagulant”

Grace Brandon (Darien HS)
“The Effect of Water Type on the Growth Rate of Microalgae Chlorella vulgaris for the Production of Microalgae Biofuels”

Honorable Mentions
Connor Weiss (Staples HS)
“Usage of Algae for Wastewater Treatment and Revival of Stagnant Water”

Health Science Proposals
1st Place
Jeffrey Sload (Darien HS)
“Elucidating Warfarin Pharmacogenomics in African Americans:
A Genome-Wide Association Study on Warfarin Dose Response in a Cohort of African American Individuals”

Faye Osgood (Staples HS)
“The Effects of Glucose-dependent Insulinotropic Polypeptide (GIP) has on Rats with Epilepsy”

Isabel Baker (Staples HS)
“The Physical Relationship of NOTCH4 and MKL1”

Honorable Mentions (tie)
Caroline Wetterauw (Darien HS)
“Irregular Methylation of the ST6GALNAC Gene Region Resulting in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder”

Leah Hotchkiss (Darien HS)
“Transmission of Fatal Familial Insomnia through Ingestion”

Physical Science Proposals
1st Place
Marcus Russi (Staples HS)
“Partial Differentials in the Body: Modeling of Diffusive Drug Transport”

2nd Place
Oscar Barbour (Darien HS)
“The Effect of Different Temperatures of Salt Baths on the Improvement of Glass Properties through the Ion-Exchange Process”

3rd Place (tie)
Ian Klasky (Staples HS)
“Novel TiO2 GaP Water Splitting Catalyst”

Andrew Fletcher (Darien HS)
“The Effects of Synthesis Temperatures on Materials in a Quantum Dot Solar Cell”

Behavioral Science Completed Projects
1st Place
Brooke Davis (Darien HS)
“Use of Formant Values in Classifying Vocalizations of Beluga Whales (Delphinapterus leucas)”

2nd Place
Eeman Abbasi (Amity HS)
“Correlation Between Lucid Dreaming and Ventromedial Versus Dorsolateral Prefrontal Task Perform”

3rd Place
Andrew Chen (Amity HS)
“Do Optimal Outcome Individuals Have Less of a Prevalence of Family History of Major Mood, Anxiety, ADHD, Learning or Psychotic Disorders than Individuals Who Have Retained Their Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses?”

Honorable Mentions (tie)
Jacob Epstein (Staples HS)
“Can Ski Resorts Be Inferior?”

Environmental Science Completed Projects
1st Place
Amanda Sommi (Darien HS)
“The Effect of Rising Sea Level on the Elevation of Salt Marshes Throughout Long Island, NY”

2nd Place (tie)
David Powers (Amity HS)
“The Efficacy of Zinnia and Marigold Plants in the Phytoextraction of Various Metals”

Tanay Lathia (Amity HS)
“Testing the Trigger Theory: The Effect of Different Nutrients on the Lipid Content on Tetraselmis suecica”

Honorable Mentions
Jay Tsai (Staples HS)
“The Application of Photosynthetic Hydrogen Production Using C. reinhardtii in Hydrogen Fuel Cells”

Health Science Completed Projects
1st Place (tie)
John Solder (Staples HS)
“Optogenetic Interrogation of Prefrontal Cortex Dopamine D1 Receptor-Containing Neurons as a Technique to Restore Timing:
A Novel Approach to Treat Prefrontal Disorders”

Yiyuan Hu (Hamden HS)
“Role of MyD88 in DNA Damage Response”

Caroline Cunningham (Convent of the Sacred Heart)
“Agonistic and Antagonistic Effects of Resveratrol on Estrogen Receptors in Human Prostate Cancer”

Honorable Mentions
Satish Bhat (Amity HS)
“Effects of a Polycaprolactone Tissue Scaffold in Rattus Norvegicus on Blood Flow”

Physical Science Completed Projects
1st Place
Kim Adler (Staples HS)
“NGC 2194: Clues to Stellar Evolution”

2nd Place
Morgan Jordan (Joel Barlow HS)
“Surfactants: Emulsification Effects of Synthetic, Microbial and Plant-Derived Surfactants”

3rd Place
Ehsan Khan (Amity HS)
“Significance of Supernovae on Nearby White Dwarf Stars”

Honorable Mentions
Daniel Giebisch (Amity HS)
“The Power of Domes: Geodesic Domes versus Flat Panels-Solar Efficiency”

The next SCISEF is scheduled for February 9, 2013.

SCISEF (The Southern Connecticut Invitational Science & Engineering Fair) was started in 2001 by the Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation (CTSTEM). SCISEF promotes critical thinking skills, and motivates students to pursue science and engineering after high school. Students receive awards in four categories: life sciences, physical sciences, environmental sciences and behavioral sciences. For more information, please visit the Fair web site at
CTSTEM (The Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation), an IRS Sec. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, seeks to inspire and educate students by encouraging inquiry and exploration in science and engineering, and by exposing them to exciting and practical advances in science. In addition to sponsoring SCISEF each year, CTSTEM has held some extraordinary events for students to see the practical application of science, including a visit to Pratt & Whitney’s aircraft engine facilities, a physics lesson using an actual LeMans race car and a seminar by “citizen astronaut” Greg Olsen. For more information, sponsorship opportunities, or how to make an individual financial or in-kind donation, please visit the CTSTEM web site at and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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