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Published May 25, 2023
Four high school students recently advanced and competed in a pair of national science competitions after placing high in this spring’s Wyoming State Science Fair hosted by the University of Wyoming.
Laramie High School junior Grace Zhou recently placed second in the high school division of the virtual Student Research Showcase, hosted by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society. Zhou’s microbiology and molecular biology project was titled “Non-Invasive microRNA-based Diagnostic for the Detection of Multiple Cancers.”
Two other Wyoming State Science Fair students also competed: Padmalakshmi Ramesh, of Laramie, and Greybull’s Tyler Searfoss.
Theirs were among 212 student presentations across 12 disciplinary categories in the competition. Monetary awards were given for first- and second-place winners in the high school, undergraduate and graduate divisions.
The Student Research Showcase is an annual virtual competition that builds students’ science communication skills so they can convey the value of their research to technical and nontechnical audiences.
Zhou and Riley Thomas, a Greybull High School senior, represented the Cowboy State at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Dallas, Texas, earlier this month. The Regeneron ISEF is the world’s largest international precollege science competition, with more than 1,500 high school students from 75 countries, regions and territories competing for approximately $5 million in prizes.
“Both students competed well at the Wyoming State Science Fair at UW in March and did excellent science research,” says Erin Stoesz, the State Science Fair director at UW.
At the ISEF competition, Thomas entered “Reducing Potential Groundwater Contamination From Coal Fly Ash: Developing a Unique Bentonite/Zeolite Matrix Barrier,” while Zhou’s project was titled “Non-Invasive microRNA-based Diagnostics for the Detection of Multiple Cancers.”
“Riley received some generous help from both Janet Dewey in the UW Department of Geology and Geophysics, and Jessica Kern in the UW Biogeochemistry Laboratory,” Stoesz says. “I thank both Janet and Jessica for their wonderful mentoring.”
To read about Thomas’s and Zhou’s projects at the virtual showcase, visit www.projectboard.world/isef/.
“Now is a great time for Wyoming students to start research projects for the 2024 State Science Fair competitions,” Stoesz says.
For more information, interested students or teachers should email Stoesz at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a short “getting started” Zoom workshop or to learn more about regional and state competitions.