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SARSEF Fair award winners have been announced!

See the winner list

Meet the Winners of Arizona JSHS 2024

JSHS is a national competition promoting original research and experimentation in science, technology, engineering, and math at the high school level. These students present their research to a panel of judges and symposium attendees in a 12-minute presentation. These students work on their projects for months and the top five students attend the National JSHS and receive a University of Arizona scholarship. I got to ask this year’s Arizona Junior Science and Humanities Symposium 2024 winners some questions and these future scientists have so much to share with you and hope to inspire future generations.

I asked 1st Place, Finnegan McGill, and 2nd Place, Julianna Serna, what would be one thing you would tell younger students who are interested in science /engineering?

Finnegan: Persevere and believe in yourself! Be curious! Ask questions! Remember, the journey matters as much as the destination. Two years ago, I went to JSHS as a spectator with my family. I sat in the audience and listened to the students present their research. I was both fascinated and insanely intimidated by the presenters’ confidence. I couldn’t even pronounce the titles of their research, and achieving what they did seemed impossible for someone like me at the time. But I didn’t give up! I kept going, believed in myself, and continued learning. I still can’t pronounce half of my fellow researcher’s project titles but look at me now — I am one of them!

Julianna: Honestly, never take no for an answer. If you have scarce resources to conduct your project, find a way to still do it. Should someone doubt your abilities or question your capacity to engineer a project with global impact due to age or perceived limitations, press forward regardless. The key is that you believe in it and in your capacity to complete it! When fueled by genuine passion and dedication, no obstacle should deter you from pursuing what you love.

These students put so much work and dedication into these projects and it isn’t always easy for them either. I asked them, while working on your project for JSHS, what was one of the biggest challenges that you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Finnegan: There were so many big challenges that I faced. Creating A-BiRD was a tough journey filled with technical issues and handling lots of data. I had to learn the necessary advanced math and coding from scratch, troubleshoot problems quickly, and refine the system to detect bird sounds in natural places without recording other sounds such as people, cars, wind, and other ambient noises. I felt like giving up many times, but I persevered and learned the importance of continuous improvement. My family and caring neighbors were key factors in overcoming the difficulties. They all believed in me and my ideas and helped me through tough times. They always cheered me on and asked good questions that made me think further. Their support meant everything to me.

Julianna: I conducted my research at school under the guidance of my biology professor. While we lacked access to the most optimal materials and equipment for the project, we still managed to successfully conduct the project with the resources at our disposal. This experience reinforced my belief that one doesn’t necessarily need a state-of-the-art laboratory to tackle global issues. There’s always a way forward, even with limited resources!

I also got to ask 3rd Place Sohini Mallick and 5th Place Caleb Liu questions. I asked them, what is one of your earliest memories that shaped your interest in science/engineering?

Sohini: My interest in science initially rose from my parents’ work in microbiology and cancer. However, I’ve always had a profound interest in nature, especially plants, and even wanted to be a botanist when I was young.

Caleb: My earliest memory that sparked my interest in science and engineering was going to the Arizona Science Center when I was around 5. The interactive exhibits were super fun and made me want to go back even if it was rather far from my house. Each demonstration done by the “blue crew” also expanded my interest in all STEM fields. The most impactful exhibit by far was the one that allowed me to code Scratch games (I didn’t know you could access the website from any device yet), which sparked my interest in computer science. Now, I go back to the science center to volunteer so that other kids can have similar experiences as me.

I asked Sohini and Caleb about their projects and how they would describe their JSHS project to someone who does not have a science background.

Sohini: Using neon fluorescent trackers, which, when viewed under a microscope, display expressions of a protein based on the intensity of the fluorescence, I studied how a specific protein, p53, functions within a group of cells from the intestine, help to form a barrier against unwanted microorganisms in the human body. One of my biggest challenges was trying to develop a protein tracker for p53, which has never been done before. It took a lot of trial and error, and even restarting the whole process, but about 4-5 months later, I was able to finally create an effective model for the rest of the experiment.

Caleb: My JSHS project is simply trying to study and improve self-driving cars. Current self-driving cars work well in ideal conditions, in sunny clear weather. We study how the camera on the car fails to detect pedestrians in bad weather conditions, and how some people of different demographic groups are negatively impacted by the failure more than other demographics.

These students are our future scientists and cannot wait to see the work they do in the future. Congratulations to the winners of Arizona JSHS 2024!

Arizona Junior Science and Humanities Symposium 2024 – Results

Congratulations to the Arizona Junior Science and Humanities Symposium 2024 winners!

1st Place: Finnegan McGill, Tanque Verde High School, Tucson, AZ

A-BiRD: Automated Bird Recognition Device — Revolutionizing Ornithological Research for Global Bird Conservation

2nd Place: Julianna Serna, Harvest Preparatory Academy, Yuma, AZ

Year 3 Study: Applications of Antimicrobial Bioplastics Engineered From Invasive Algae and Waste Corn Cobs

3rd Place: Sohini Mallick, University High School, Tucson, AZ

The Function of p53 in Intestinal Epithelial Wound Healing and Monolayer Development

4th Place: Brad Wu, Arizona College Prep High School, Chandler, AZ

A Hybrid Finger Exoskeleton Rehabilitation System (FERS) for Stroke Patients with Motor Impairment

5th Place: Caleb Liu, Hamilton High School, Chandler, AZ

Fairness in Autonomous Driving: Towards Understanding Confounding Factors in Object Detection Under Challenging Weather

1st and 2nd place winners will compete on equal footing at oral presenters at the 2024 National JSHS competition May 1-4, 2024, in Albuquerque, NM. 3rd-5th place winners will also attend the national event and share their research as poster presenters.

Poster Session Winners:

1st Place: Shubham Kale, Paradise Valley High School, Phoenix, AZ

2nd Place: Luna Ambriz, Harvest Preparatory Academy, Yuma, AZ

3rd Place: Sajani Patel and Maya Mengesha, Paradise Valley High School, Phoenix, AZ

Thank you to our AZ JSHS sponsors Yuma International Airport, Arizona Western College, Elevate Southwest!

Volunteer as a Judge at the Arizona Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Yuma

The 2024 Arizona Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) is coming up soon and we want you to be a part of it! This year’s JSHS will be on February 16th and 17th at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona.

JSHS is a statewide public speaking competition for high school students. Students present original STEM research in a 12-minute oral presentation, followed by six minutes of questions from a panel of judges. They compete in the following categories: Environmental Science, Biomedical Sciences, Life & Behavioral Science, Medicine & Health, Engineering & Technology, Math & Computer Science, Physical Sciences, and Chemistry.

Participants compete for scholarships of $2,000, $1,500, and $1,000 with the top five finalists representing Arizona at the National JSHS in Albuquerque, NM. Each finalist will also receive a $1000 scholarship to the University of Arizona. To learn more about the National JSHS, explore https://jshs.org.

This is a great opportunity for high school students, and even better, we are looking for people like you to support these students by joining us as a judge!

A one-hour virtual training session will be provided before the event itself. Judges attend in-person from 7:30am – 1:00pm on Saturday, February 17th. Judges will identify finalists from their category to move on to the finalist round. Lunch is provided.

“Judging for JSHS is a truly fulfilling experience. Learning about the incredible work young people are engaging in gives me so much hope for the future. Their excitement as they demonstrate their abilities and showcase their work is palpable in the room and becomes infectious; every year I have judged, I have left feeling energized to complete my own projects,” shared Dr. Laura Swantek, Anthropology Faculty at Phoenix College. “As judges, we also serve as mentors, if only for a moment, for each student. Having that moment to encourage a young scientist to push their curiosity and thinking forward is important for building a student’s confidence, but it also gives us an opportunity to give back what we have been so graciously given by our own mentors.”

Arizona students attend the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Virginia Beach, Virginia!

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) program is one of the nation’s longest-running STEM competitions. 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 from Arizona attended the National JSHS Competition and we are proud to share that two of them achieved recognition! Maritza Roberts-Padilla from BASIS Tucson North won First Place for her poster presentation in Chemistry and Chloe Zhan from Hamilton High School received an honorable mention in Math and Computer Science.

The students also had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jayde King, Research Psychologist at the Air Force Research Laboratory, presenting “Human Autonomy Teaming: Sci-Gi Dreams Made Reality” and Ms. Charneta Samms, Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, presenting “Being an Engineer with the Army: The Limit Does Not Exist”.

Our very own Dani Wright, Director of Events and Volunteers, emceed all general sessions alongside John Andrews from Oklahoma State University Honors College. “Traveling to the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Virginia Beach was such a wonderful opportunity for our Arizona delegation to convene with some of the brightest young minds from all corners in the United States”, shared Dani, “Students learned from one another as well as getting a peek into cutting edge technology from leading scientists and engineers in our country.”

Maritza’s project titled, Batch Adsorption Study of Methylene Blue using Fresh Prickly Pear Cactus Cladodes as a Model Material for Textile Wastewater Remediation, aimed to understand the effectiveness of Opuntia ficus-indica as a potential adsorbent for MB by understanding how the parameters, such as contact time, adsorbate dosage and temperature may affect adsorption.

The awards Maritza and the other students received are a testament to their hard work and dedication to STEM fields! Participating in events like JSHS not only gives students the opportunity to showcase their work, but also helps to encourage and motivate them to pursue their interests further. Congratulations to SARSEF students Baochan Fan, Chloe Zhan, Maritza Roberts-Padilla, Prisha Shroff, Valeria Tocanos-Pasos, and all students who participated in JSHS!

Check out our interview with Maritza Roberts-Padilla:

Can you describe your experience at JSHS (both locally and internationally), including any challenges you faced and what you learned from the experience?

JSHS has been one of the most interesting experiences of my high school career. At both the state and national level, I was able to meet so many driven and unique students! Every single person I had a conversation with had a unique view on the field they were studying, and the research was truly impressive; students conducted PhD level research at the age of 16 on everything from AI to ecological conservation. Additionally, it was very exciting to be able to combine my public speaking skills with my science research project as well. JSHS has taught me the importance of science communication, and how the true value in science is derived (largely in part) from allowing others to be able to understand what we research. This way research becomes inviting to everyone and we reduce the factor of intimidation that STEM currently has.

What advice would you give to other students who are interested in pursuing research in STEM fields?

One piece of advice I would give to any student who wants to pursue research within the STEM field is to just give it a chance and believe in yourself! There is legitimately nothing to lose by trying something new out (this goes for anything). Apply to a STEM program or reach out to a professor at the University of Arizona. Most people are excited to help a curious teen out! After you start reading some literature or talking to a mentor, give yourself a month or two to acclimate to the research setting (it’s overwhelming at times), but if you have enough initiative, follow your project through! Don’t expect the research experience to be easy though, you will learn so much every step of the way but also be challenged several times throughout the experience. I can’t emphasize how important it is for a student to go out of their comfort zone, and you never know but you may end up discovering something groundbreaking in your field! Don’t underestimate yourself, if I could do science research, anyone can!

How does it feel to have received recognition at the national level for your research, and what does this achievement mean to you personally?

Having recognition at the National level for my research is something that I haven’t completely processed yet. I was completely new to independent research this year and I oftentimes felt like a fish out of water. Especially as a Latina in STEM, the research experience can feel very isolating at times. Nonetheless, I feel so privileged that the Arizona JSHS judges believed in me enough to have sent my project to Nationals! Most importantly, I’m happy to know that my project was able to, nationally, communicate the importance of environmental chemistry solutions and provide a deeper look at the significance of chemo-adsorption using accessible materials to clean polluted water. The First Place National Chemistry Poster Award is truly an achievement that I never thought achievable, but now I have been encouraged to continue contributing to the adsorption field, and my intellectual curiosity will continue to expand from here! I will bring my knowledge that I have acquired from this project to the International Science and Engineering Fair this May in Dallas, Texas!

If you would like to know more about SARSEF and how you can become engaged in STEM, volunteer for our organization, or donate, visit us at (https://sarsef.org/)

Congratulations to the 2023 Arizona JSHS Winners!

Congratulations to all students who participated in this year’s Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). 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.

The JSHS program is one of the nation’s longest-running STEM competitions. 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).

The following students will be advancing to the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium:

1st Place: Prisha Shroff

Award: $2,000 JSHS Scholarship and  $1,000 University of Arizona Scholarship

School: Hamilton High School – Chandler, AZ

Mentor: Hassan Ghasemzadeh, Associate Professor- Arizona State University

Title: HyperGlycemiaAssist: Personalized Blood Glucose Level and Postprandial Hyperglycemia

Prediction using Neural Networks

2nd Place: Chloe Zhan

Award: $1,500 JSHS Scholarship and $1,000 University of Arizona Scholarship

School: Hamilton High School – Chandler, AZ

Teacher: Debbie Nipar, Hamilton High School

Title: Forecasting County-Level Crop Yield in Top Agricultural-Producing States Using Satellite Data

3rd Place: Valeria Tocanos-Pasos

Award: $1,000 JSHS Scholarship and $1,000 University of Arizona Scholarship

Flowing Wells High School – Tucson, AZ

Mentor: Jessica Dietrich, Flowing Wells High School

Title: Examining Hindbrain Activation at Multiple Time Points Following a Small Intestinal Lipid Infusion

in Mice

4th Place: Baochan Fan

Award: $1,000 University of Arizona Scholarship

Hamilton High School – Chandler, AZ

Mentor: Dr. Min-Hyun Kim, PhD, Arizona State University

Title: Hypothalamic EZH2: A Key Regulator of Leptin Sensitivity in Obesity

5th Place: Maritza Roberts-Padilla

Award: $1,000 University of Arizona Scholarship

BASIS Tucson North – Tucson, AZ

Mentor: Dr. Derek Reichel, Roche

Title: Batch Adsorption Study of Methylene Blue using Fresh Prickly Pear Cactus Cladodes as a

Model Material for Textile Wastewater Remediation

Alternate: Meenal Srivastava

BASIS Scottsdale – Scottsdale, AZ

Title: Trust in the Use of Artificial Intelligence Technology in Healthcare

1st Place Poster Presenter: Roberto Serna

Harvest Preparatory Academy – Yuma, AZ

Teacher: Alfred S. Santos

Title: Burnt Potato Peel (BPP)Powder: A Novel Biosorbent to Combat Pharmaceutical Pollution.

2nd Place Poster Presenter: Leonocio Villareal

Harvest Preparatory Academy – Yuma, AZ

Teacher: Alfred S. Santos

Title: Investigating the Effects of Phenylalanine and Lysine on Phaseolus Vulgaris Grown in Acidic Soil

AZ JSHS Teacher of the Year: Alfred Santos

Harvest Preparatory Academy – Yuma, AZ

Meet the 2022 Winners of the Arizona Regional JSHS

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.

Interested in supporting SARSEF and our work creating Arizona’s future critical thinkers and problem solvers through science and engineering?

Click Here to Visit SARSEF’s Donation Page

2022 JSHS Winners

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).

The following students will be advancing to the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium:

1st Place: Baochan Fan

School: Hamilton High School

Mentor: Dr. Shu Wang

Self Disinfecting High Performance Face Mask Based on Biomaterial Coated Nanofibers

2nd Place: Shreya Skreekantham

School: BASIS Chandler

Mentor: Dr. Avani Wildani

Evaluation of Gender’s Effect in Predicting Parkinson’s Disease from Voice Recordings: A Random Forest Approach

3rd Place: Calista Wilk

BASIS Scottsdale

Mentor: Peide Ye

Replacing Gallinium Arsenide in Space Solar Cells with 2-D Materials in a Novel 7-Junction Configuration

4th Place: Prisha Shroff

Hamilton High School

Teacher: Debbie Nipar

Ai-Based Wildfire Prevention, Detection, and Suppression System

5th Place: Savannah Botello

Cibola High School

Teacher: Patricia Garcia

Comparison of Struvite and Chlorella Vulgaris Solution to Phosphorus Water Pollution

Alternate: Saptarshi Mallick

University High School

Mentor: Yana Zavros

Hedgehog Signaling Mediates the Dysregulation of Adrenocorticotropin Hormone Secretion and Somatostatin Receptor Expression in Cushing’s Disease

2022 Arizona JSHS Digital Abstract Booklet

Meet the 2021 Winners of the Arizona Regional JSHS

For the first year, SARSEF hosted the Arizona Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (AZ JSHS). The program is a competition promoting original research and experimentation in science, technology, engineering, and math at the high school level and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement. This year, the event included 55 oral presenters and 12 poster presenters from across the state. $9,725 in awards and scholarships were given out to students who won top prizes at the virtual event as determined by 21 volunteer judges.

Five students will continue on to compete at the National JSHS competition: Ella Wang (BASIS Chandler), Arun Moorthy (BASIS Scottsdale), Samira Nassi Celaya (Tucson High Magnet School), Megan Bime (Catalina Foothills High School), and Isabel Ross (Cienega High School). Michelle Sheikh (Arizona College Preparatory Erie) 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 student scientists?

Megan Bime: My advice would be that it’s important to allow yourself to make mistakes in science and be open to learning from those around you. To me, science is like a rollercoaster. There will be high points when you feel like you’re making tons of progress, and other moments when you know you could do better. But in the end, science is something you will always look back on as a rewarding and fun experience.

Arun Moorthy shared that he earned a lot about himself as a person while doing his research. “After I started learning about quantum computing, I did not realize that I could be so interested in a specific field. Before, I did not think of learning as something that is fun, but rather something that is necessary. However, now my entire perspective on research and learning has shifted, which is a great thing in my opinion.”

Arun Moorthy: Never give up. When you are doing research, roadblocks are part of the journey. When you hit one, you should know that everyone else is hitting their own roadblocks. Once you hit a challenge, the next step is to find a creative way to overcome it. Oftentimes the creative way turns out to be the best way.  The only way to “fail” in science is to give up when you hit a challenge before you have exhausted all ways to solve it.

Michelle Sheikh: Always choose a topic you are passionate about and manage your time in order to put your best effort into making your project. Don’t be afraid to repeat an experiment or try out a new protocol. Results don’t happen overnight!

Ella Wang: Go for it! If you have something you’re passionate about, just go out there and do it! It might seem scary or difficult to undertake a research project, but the truth is, research is simply exploring your interests at a deeper level, and along the way, you’ll find that you learn so much from the experience. Whether it’s in a lab or in your basement, research can begin anywhere, so don’t limit yourself and dream big. If you ever feel lost or aren’t sure where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out to peers, teachers, or mentors – they are your friends and will always be there to help you, and you will make some of the closest connections through science.

What has JSHS meant for you?

Samira Nassi Celaya: JSHS to me is a challenge that can encourage me to enhance my presentation skills. Completing a project is entirely a different endeavor than explaining it. It’s difficult to explain months of work in just a few minutes, but it was accomplished for JSHS!

Isabel Ross: JSHS has meant a lot to me. I’ve pretty much always had a passion for science, but I never thought I stood out among my fellow student scientists. JSHS really opened my eyes to the possibilities of research, especially student research, and provided me with many opportunities that I would have never known were out there.

Ella Wang: This is my second year participating in JSHS, and second time attending Nationals (virtually)! The amount of knowledge, experience, and friendships I’ve built through the program has been incredible and invaluable. As a competition, JSHS has helped me prepare for research conferences and hone skills in science communication through its oral/poster presentation and interview format, and I’ve learned so much through talking with judges and other students. JSHS is a unique opportunity to share my research with a larger scientific community, and I would really encourage any students who are interested in research to take part in it!

Is there anyone you want to thank who helped you get to JSHS?

Megan Bime holds her Arizona JSHS trophy

Megan Bime: I would like to thank my parents for all the support they have given me, as well as my Biotechnology teacher Ms.Tiffanie Bialis, the STAR Labs director Margaret Wilch, Isabella Constantine, Amanda Ruela, and my mentors Dr. Frank Duca and Rachel Meyer. Ms.Bialis has been a key part of my support system and was always so understanding in regards to scheduling and providing assistance for my project. Lastly, Dr.Frank Duca and Rachel Meyer from the University of Arizona were wonderful mentors, and my project would not have come about without their help and guidance. I greatly appreciate everyone!

Samira Nassi Celaya: I thank my mentor Dr. Warman for his extensive guidance in the application of bioinformatics. I also thank Dr. Palanivelu for sponsoring and providing further insights for comprehension of topics.

Arun Moorthy: In science, nothing can be done alone. I have so many people to thank for my success with this project. First, I would like to thank my parents who played a pivotal role in helping me with anything I need. Sometimes, when I felt a roadblock was too difficult for me to overcome, I looked to them for tips on how to take a challenge one step at a time. Next, I would like to thank my mentor who has spent countless hours devoted to my project and helping me whenever I needed him. He has done a great job balancing his university life and my project, so I appreciate him for that. I would also like to thank my computer science teacher in school who has always helped me in and out of school. Teachers do not need to help their students outside of school, but her help is always appreciated. Lastly, I want to thank the Arizona JSHS staff and judges for making it easy for all participants to present their research. They have always been supportive, and I am confident that their relaxed and nice behavior will not change.

Isabel Ross: I would like to send a huge thank you to my mentor, Dr. Vanessa Buzzard, along with the rest of the Meredith lab, my parents, my science teacher Mrs. Baker, and Dr. Margaret Wilch for allowing me to be a part of such amazing programs as STAR lab and JSHS.

Michelle Sheikh: I would like to thank my mentor Rebecca Jernigan and my teacher Ms. Nath as well my family for all their support.

Ella Wang: Huge thank you to my mentor Dr. Espanol from ASU and teacher Mr. Bostaph for providing feedback and guidance on my project throughout the year, as well as always being there to lend a helping hand and share the kind of advice people with double the life experience I have tend to do! Thank you to my parents for letting me turn my room into a (very messy) makeshift lab and (temporarily?) wreck my computer with huge datasets <3

Interested in supporting SARSEF and our work creating Arizona’s future critical thinkers and problem solvers through science and engineering?

Click Here to Visit SARSEF’s Donation Page

Arizona Students Awarded $127,534 in Scholarships and Prizes at SARSEF Events in March

Students from across the state competed at SARSEF events this month to be encouraged, recognized, and awarded for their work.

Press Release – PDF

March 31, 2021

(Tucson, AZ) In March, SARSEF events provided students the opportunity to be recognized and rewarded for their work in science and engineering. Many received cash prizes for their achievements.

The 66th SARSEF Science and Engineering Fair Powered by TEP showcased the work of 2,900 students, pre-kindergarten through high school, from across Southern Arizona. $117,809 in awards and scholarships were given out to students as well as teachers who went above and beyond to support their students’ work.

Grand awards were determined by 204 volunteer judges who reviewed projects and interviewed students in order to determine the winners.

“My favorite part was actually the challenge. For the first time in my life, I constructed something without any help, which is out of my comfort zone, and I succeeded in creating something at least semi-functional. I cannot describe the joy that brought me. To top it all, my hypothesis was confirmed. I felt like a scientist and an engineer, and I felt hopeful for my future in STEM,” shared SARSEF Winner Amanda Whalen from Veritas Christian Community School.

Whalen designed and built a wind turbine tower that utilized the structure of a saguaro cactus to determine if the pleats and spines would better utilize winds to produce more electricity.

Eight high school students will continue on to compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair: Ethan Lee (University High School), Esha Mathur (University High School), Karah Mayer (Tanque Verde High School), Alexander Nelson (Nelson Home School), Andrea Romero (Harvest Preparatory Academy), Isabel Ross (Cienega High School), Aaron Trinh (Canyon del Oro High School), and Amanda Whalen (Veritas Christian Community School).

For the first year, SARSEF also hosted the Arizona Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (AZ JSHS). The program is a competition promoting original research and experimentation in science, technology, engineering, and math at the high school level and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement. This year, the event included 55 oral presenters and 12 poster presenters from across the state. $9,725 in awards and scholarships were given out to students who won top prizes at the virtual event as determined by 21 volunteer judges.

Ella Wang, who attends BASIS Chandler and won first place at AZ JSHS encouraged other students to get involved in scientific research.

“It might seem scary or difficult to undertake a research project, but the truth is, research is simply exploring your interests at a deeper level, and along the way you’ll find that you learn so much from the experience,” Wang explained. “Whether it’s in a lab or in your basement, research can begin anywhere, so don’t limit yourself and dream big. If you ever feel lost or aren’t sure where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out to peers, teachers, or mentors – they are your friends and will always be there to help you, and you will make some of the closest connections through science.”

Wang created a computer vision-enhanced mobile imaging system for rapid, inexpensive, and automated screening of hematological diseases using deep learning.

Five students will continue on to compete at the National JSHS competition: Ella Wang (BASIS Chandler), Arun Moorthy (BASIS Scottsdale), Samira Nassi Celaya (Tucson High Magnet School), Megan Bime (Catalina Foothills High School), and Isabel Ross (Cienega High School).

In April, 9 teams of Arizona students will compete in Racing the Sun, an engineering program for high school students that design, build and race solar-powered go-karts with the help of volunteer mentors.

To learn more about SARSEF programs and how students, teachers, and families can get involved, visit sarsef.org or email director@sarsef.org.

2021 JSHS Winners

2021 JSHS Winners

1st Place: Ella Wang  

School: BASIS Chandler

Teacher: Joseph Bostaph

Hema-Vision A Computer Vision-Enhanced Mobile Imaging System for Rapid, Inexpensive, and Automated Screening of Hematological Diseases Using Deep Learning

 

2nd Place: Arun Moorthy

School: BASIS Scottsdale

Teacher: Kay Yoo

Generator: A Novel Way to Create Qudit Quantum Error Correction Codes

 

3rd Place: Samira Nassi Celaya

School: Tucson High Magnet School

Teacher: Jeremy Jonas

Comparative analysis of transcriptome changes in Solanum pennellii pistils before and after flowering time

 

4th Place: Megan Bime

School: Catalina Foothills High School

Teacher: Tiffanie Bialis

Changes in Bile Acid Signaling During Obesity and Prebiotic Treatment

 

5th Place: Isabel Ross

School: Cienega High School

Teacher: Lisa Baker

Green Infrastructure Impacts on Carbon Cycling: Evaluating Changes in Soil Microbial Composition and Function

 

Alternate: Michelle Sheikh

School: Arizona College Preparatory: Erie

Teacher: Rebecca Jernigan

A Novel Approach to Healing Burn Wound Infections using Flavonoids: Exploring the Interaction between Flavonoids and Antibiotics

 

2021 AZ JSHS Digital Abstract Booklet