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Winners of the 13th Annual Southern Connecticut Invitational Science & Engineering Fair

Cary Institute’s Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall Delivers Keynote at Biggest Ever SCISEF

Redding, CT, April 27, 2013 – Over 500 students, judges, volunteers and community members attended the 13th 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 (Greenwich), Darien High School, Glastonbury High School, Hamden High School, Joel Barlow High School (Easton, Redding), The Kent School, Newtown High School, Ridgefield High School, Staples High School (Westport) and Stonewall Academy (Tolland). SCISEF is sponsored by the Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation (CTSTEM).

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. Team projects were added for the first time this year.

“The diversity, creativity and quality of the projects were truly outstanding,” said Dr. Paul Oestreicher, CTSTEM president. “And it was a pleasure to see their enthusiasm and passion matched by the teachers, judges and volunteers.”

Teams from a group of 198 judges reviewed the 198 student projects. A unique feature of SCISEF is that students receive both verbal and written feedback to aid them in their future work. CTSTEM board member and judge Dr. Matt Miller recalled, “I provided comments to a student at a previous SCISEF and remarked that her topic was so compelling that it could be her life’s work. It turned out that, after arriving at college, she changed her major and is doing just that!”

This year saw two recipients of the Paul Heilman Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The award is named for CTSTEM/SCISEF co-founder Paul Heilman, who passed away in 2010. Retiring board member Rita Smircich received the award because “The success and growth of Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation and SCISEF would not have been possible without your unrelenting commitment and support.” The CTSTEM board of directors surprised William Foster II, CTSTEM Chairman and co-founder, with a second Heilman award “For the vision of co-founding the Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation and the resolve to bring unique learning opportunities to students, teachers and the community at large.”

The SCISEF crowd was treated to an important and timely address by Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall, an aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies. She spoke about the effects of contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products, on the ecosystems of streams and rivers. She is working to raise awareness that water treatment facilities do not currently filter or treat these compounds and, without attention, may have serious implications for human and animal health.

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

This year’s SCISEF winners:

Behavioral Science Proposals

1st Place – Austin McLaughlin (DHS): The Effect of Percept Expectations on the Functional Connectivity of the Primary Visual Cortex

2nd Place – Bettina Arkhurst (DHS): The Effect of Parental Toxoplasma Infection on the Cognition of Offspring in Mice

3rd Place – Amelia Brackett (SHS): The Lateralization of Ant Antennae

Honorable Mention – Sammy Alptekin (DHS): An Analysis of the Riskiness of the Impulsiveness Personality Trait in Drug Use Onset

Environmental Science Proposals

1st Place – Emily Nixon (DHS): Diel vertical movement (DVM) of a jellyfish predator, Mola mola or ocean sunfish, in the Gulf Stream of the Northern Atlantic

2nd Place – Grant Schwabacher (SHS): Optimal 2-D Configuration of Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines

3rd Place (tie) – Grace Brandon (DHS): Microalgae S. elongatus PCC7942 grown in slab waveguide photobioreactor as a feedstock for biofuel production and device for efficient CO2 sequestration

3rd Place (tie) – Pamela Onorato (SHS): Antimicrobial Activity of Lichen Extracts

Health and Medical Proposals

1st Place (tie) – Leah Hotchkiss (DHS): Identifying a Novel Function: The Role of PrP-like Shadoo Protein in Copper Homeostasis

1st Place (tie) – Emily Roney (DHS): Murine Stem Cell Differentiation into Rat Kidney Cells Mediated By Microvesicle mRNA and microRNA Species

3rd Place (tie) – Natasha Armbrust (RHS): Determination of Irisin II Capabilities

3rd Place (tie) – Megan Johnson (RHS): Investigation of the Timing and Concentration of Bmp4 Required to Induce Cells of a Mesoderm Lineage From a Human Embryonic Stem Cell Derived, Mesendoderm Population

Physical Science Proposals

1st Place – Graham Skeats (DHS): The Effect of a Graphene Coating in Aerogels on Properties Imparted by Guest Particles

2nd Place – Isabelle Gordon (RHS): Single Strand Deoxyribonucleic Acid’s Interaction with Graphene Flakes

3rd Place (tie) – Joseph Neumann (AHS): The Effects of Precursor Injection Rate on Carbon Nanotube Diameter

3rd Place (tie) – Alex Sedlack (DHS): Detecting Weakly Interacting Massive Dark Matter Particles through SI WIMP-nucleus recoils within a dual-phase Xenon detector

3rd Place (tie) – Devin Gund (RHS): Directed Assembly of Polyoxometalate-based Tubular Microstructures

3rd Place (tie) – Isabelle Goldstein (RHS): The annihilation rate and spectrum of dark matter over time

Behavioral Science Completed Projects

1st Place – Kimberly Liang (AHS): The Effect of an Artificial Voice on Students in a Classroom

2nd Place (tie) – Reed Morgan (DHS): Ethnogenesis and State Formation in the Mycenaean State of Pylos: A-pu2/Iklaina as a Diagnostic Model

2nd Place (tie) – Kevin Dardik (AHS): A Correlation Study Between Dream Clarity and Restfulness

Honorable Mention (tie) – Helen Liu (AHS): The Effect of Training Caregivers of ASD Individuals

Honorable Mention (tie) – Matthew McKenna (AHS): The Effect of Chewing Gum on Concentration

Environmental Science Completed Projects

1st Place – Katherine Ferguson (DHS): Quantifying the Effect of the Invasive Lionfish, Pterois volitan, on the Food Web Structure of the Mahahual Reef (Quintanna Roo, Mexico)

2nd Place (tie) – Emma Burke (CHS): Maximizing the Growth of the Algae Spirogyra, Oedogonium, and Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii for a Renewable Fuel Source

2nd Place (tie) – Leah Miller (AHS): Stem Density as Affected by a Rise in Temperature

Honorable Mention – Sricharan Kadimi (AHS): Correlation between chlorophyll concentration and particulate organic carbon in the oceans

Health and Medical Completed Projects

1st Place – Justin Thomas (HHS): CCG-1423 Regulates MKL1 Nuclear Localization in Megakaryocytes

2nd Place – Emman Abbasi (AHS): The Role of Microglia in Behavioral Disorders

3rd Place (tie) – Helen Zhao (AHS): Characterizing the Boundaries of the Lipid Bilayer Surrounding Intramembrane Protease GlpG

3rd Place (tie) – Jeffrey Sload (DHS): Cardiovascular Pharmacogenomics: Assessing New Genetics Variants for Warfarin and Clopidogrel Response

Physical Science Completed Projects

1st Place – Bradley Cage (DHS): Performance Analysis of a Shingled Disk Drive Emulator

2nd Place – Michael Menz (SHS): Action Potentials in Physarum Polycephalum

3rd Place – Leo McElroy (SHS): Investigation of Cosmic Microwave Background Power Spectrum Peak Sensitivities to Specific Cosmological Parameters

Honorable Mention (tie) – Shiyu Zhuang (AHS): Ca2+ Sensitive Alginate-Dendrimer FRET System for the Detection of MI

Honorable Mention (tie) – Ehsan Khan (AHS): Role of Stellar Wind on Distribution of Terrestrial Building Blocks and Protoplanetary Genesis

Competed Projects – Team

1st Place – Lamisa Mannan and Kristin Zakoworotny (AHS): Effect of Stress on a Grasshopper’s Diet

2nd Place – Noah Gallant and Daniel Giebisch (AHS): ActionWindbelts: The Future of Wind Power; The Effect of Magnet Thickness, Coil Configuration, and Film Elasticity on Electrical Output of a Windbelt

Research Proposals – Team

1st Place – Andrew Chen, Ben Ewing, Arpita Jajoo, Shaunak Pandit, Ben Staniewicz and Matt Whitehill (AHS): Sikorsky STEM Challenge

2nd Place – Claren Hesburgh and Sheila Moran (CHS): Stem Cell Derived Cardiomyocytes Potentially Suppressing Arrhythmias in Large Animal Models

3rd Place (tie) – Emily Casper and Jennifer Esposito (CHS): Covalently Cross-linking Carbon Nanotubes through Irradiation

3rd Place (tie) – Abbi Wilson and Alex Bolanos (CHS): The Relationship Between the Severity of Concussion Symptoms and Cognitive Outcomes and Recovery Time in Student Athletes

The time and place of SCISEF 2014 will be announced soon. Please visit the CTSTEM web site at, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn by searching for Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Foundation for updates.


SCISEF 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: health sciences, physical sciences, environmental sciences and behavioral sciences. SCISEF is supported in part by the Sexauer Foundation. The student awards are sponsored this year by LATICRETE International, Inc. of Bethany, CT. For more information, please visit the Fair web site at


CTSTEM, an IRS Sec. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, advocates for the study, understanding and practice of science and engineering, and seeks to inspire and educate students, academics, parents and other members of our communities. 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 by searching for Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Foundation.


AHS: Amity Regional H.S.

CSH: Convent of the Sacred Heart H.S.

DHS: Darien H.S.

HHS: Hamden H.S.

RHS: Ridgefield H.S.

SHS: Staples H.S.



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