Congratulations to all students who participated in this year’s Arizona Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), a competition hosted by SARSEF promoting original research and experimentation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at the high school level.
The JSHS Program is a national competition promoting original research and experimentation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at the high school level and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement. It is a collaborative effort between the research arm of the Department of Defense (DoD) and nationwide academic research institutions and is administered by the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA).
Five students will continue on to compete at the National JSHS competition: Baochan Fan (Hamilton High School), Shreya Sreekantham (BASIS Chandler), Calista Wilk (BASIS Scottsdale), Prisha Shroff (Hamilton High School), Savannah Botello (Cibola High School), and Saptarshi Mallick (University High School) is this year’s alternate.
We recently interviewed our AZ JSHS winners to learn more about them and their work.
What words of advice or encouragement do you want to share with other Students?
Shreya Sreekantham: Try your best, and don’t worry about the results! It’s totally ok to make a mistake, or a hundred. The more challenges you overcome, the more you learn. And if you’re feeling stuck, don’t ever hesitate to reach out to other people! You gain so much from interacting with your peers, mentors, and other scientists. I know it’s intimidating when you feel new or inexperienced, but keep in mind that everyone once started the same way. People are more willing to help than you might think, and your next amazing mentor could just be an email away.
Savannah Botello: Even if you doubt yourself or the value of your research, you should always put yourself out there because you truly never know what could happen or the people you could meet.
Baochan Fan: My number one advice would be that if you have a passion for science and research, I would recommend finding research opportunities and joining science fairs/conferences to further expand that interest, regardless of whether it is writing computer codes or conducting hands-on research in labs. I always had a passion for biology, and one of the best decisions I made in high school was applying to laboratory internship opportunities. Through these opportunities, I have enjoyed applying my knowledge in biology to solving real-world issues through research. Immersing myself in research has further developed my interest in biology and has made me more determined to pursue a career in medicine, so I would definitely recommend finding internship/lab working opportunities based on your interests.
Prisha Shroff: Be curious, dream big and never give up! Don’t just hope it happens, you should strive to make it happen!
What has JSHS meant for you?
Calista Wilk: JSHS provided an opportunity for me to experience what a symposium is like and how it feels to participate as a scientific researcher. The breadth and depth of ideas and projects inspired me, and I especially enjoyed meeting and learning from peers who shared a similar passion for science. I think that having this experience and forming these relationships are key to introducing us to new ways of approaching a problem, to encouraging us to continue challenging our skill sets, and to expanding our development as individuals.
Prisha Shroff: JSHS has been an opportunity of a lifetime and a dream come true. Everything that I got to experience in JSHS has changed my perspective and opened my eyes to the science world. The first day, I was able to tour the science labs and meet with professors conducting research in biotechnology. This was the first time I had seen an actual lab and got to do a little bit of research with the professors. I was also given the opportunity to network with professors and I was exposed to the different careers and fields in STEM. Then, I was given the opportunity to present the research that I was working on and share it with others. This was a new experience for me and I was glad to hear the questions and comments about my research. But what I really loved was meeting other like-minded peers with a passion and drive for STEM. All of the research that they were doing was amazing, and I got to see applications of STEM in so many different fields.
Shreya Sreekantham: JSHS was an incredible experience! After two years of only seeing people online, I loved being able to connect with researchers, judges, and other students. This was actually my first time participating in a research symposium, and I wish I had done this sooner. I learned so much just from watching other presenters! If you’re interested in research, I would really recommend participating in or attending these kinds of events.
Is there anyone you want to thank who helped you get to JSHS?
Savannah Botello: I’d like to thank my AP Environmental teacher Ms. Garcia and my parents for supporting me throughout the year.
Baochan Fan: First, I would like to thank my research partner, Sanvi Lamba. Ever since Sanvi and I initiated and developed our research idea, we have spent countless hours working in the lab, searching literature, and meeting together to discuss how to improve our face mask design, from multiple days after school to long hours on the weekends. Furthermore, I am extremely grateful for all of the support and advice our mentors provided to us, as we joined the lab group with no previous experience on how to create nanoparticles, set up breathability tests, or to conduct antimicrobial assays. Our mentors took the time to teach us the methods and assays to test for the properties and functions of our mask design, shared their previous research experiences whenever we were stuck on how to approach refining our experimental groups when a null result appeared, and spent countless hours supervising us while we worked in the lab. Finally, I really appreciate my parents for supporting my passion to pursue an interest in biological research. My parents were and still are willing to constantly drive me to and from the lab so that I can conduct hands-on research.
Calista Wilk: I would like to thank my mentor Professor, Peide Ye, at Purdue University for his positive and enthusiastic support throughout my project. The time he spent listening to my ideas and answering my questions provided me with the confidence to conduct my own research and to present my findings. I would also like to thank Professor, Muhammad Alam, at Purdue University for meeting with me when I had questions about the theory and operation of solar cells. I am extremely grateful for Ms. Natasha Proctor at BASIS Scottsdale, who has been my physics teacher for two years and has always supported all my endeavors in physics, including reviewing my work for JSHS. Dr. Margaret Wilch at SARSEF answered any questions I had throughout the process, which I greatly appreciated. Lastly, I would like to thank my family for cheering me on and listening to my presentation over and over, again and again.
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