The Transylvania Times -

TIME Program Needs Donations For Student Scientists - Brevard, NC

 

November 2, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Brevard High School students John Nguyen and Matthew Bailey work to collect oligochaetes from local streams.

The TIME 4 Real Science Program is seeking donations to help send seven student scientists from Transylvania County to present their original, award-winning science research at the 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting this February in Austin, Texas.

A total of 20 students from across North Carolina were invited to be a part of the delegation.

Brevard High School students Aidan Spradlin, Bryce Spradlin, Sara Megown, Matthew Bailey, John Nguyen, Chase Bishop and Alex Eberhardt were invited to present their science research after winning first place in their categories at the North Carolina Student Academy of Science (NCSAS) in March.

Local AAAS delegates explored many areas of locally important scientific research.

Megown tested "The Antifungal Effect of Plant Extracts on Candida albicans" and was the NCSAS first place state winner in biological sciences.

Megown said, "My project focused on finding remedies for fungal infections using plant extracts. I performed experiments on wax moth larvae by injecting them with an herbal extract and then infecting them with the yeast Candida albicans to find out which extracts prevented or cured disease. I wanted to test the larvae to see if they would make good replacements for lab mice and rats because the larvae do not feel pain and are considered pests as they eat the wax from beehives.

"This research was meaningful because there aren't many experiments out there that are using wax moth larvae as models yet. I'm excited to present my work at the AAAS meeting and to meet passionate students and scientists from around the country!"

Bailey and Nguyen placed first in the state in the NCSAS environmental sciences category.

Bailey said, "Last year my partner, John, and I completed a risk assessment of Transylvania County's susceptibility to Whirling Disease, caused by a parasite that can devastate trout populations. This research is extremely important due to the large role that the trout industry has in the local economy." Bailey continued, "Attending the AAAS conference is, in my opinion, an important step to furthering my own scientific inquiries. Through discussing my research with other students and professional scientists, I feel as though I can better understand and explore just what my future in science might entail."

Nguyen added, "An essential component of the scientific method is communicating and sharing results. Events like AAAS allow student researchers from around the globe to do just that."

Aidan Spradlin, Bryce Spradlin and Hannah Lemel placed first in biotechnology at the NCSAS state competition.

Aidan Spradlin said, "In our study we screened local thermally polluted lakes for the presence of the deadly brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri. Thankfully, our results showed no detectable presence of this amoeba, suggesting that the risk of infection in the tested lakes was very low. This project was especially meaningful to me because it allowed me to explore the world around me as well as contribute to my community.

"To push our research to the next level, meetings such as AAAS are needed because, in addition to simply sharing our research, collaboration with fellow students and scientists improves our research and sparks new ideas for future projects."

Bryce Spradlin added, "I realize that there are few opportunities for students like myself to contribute to the betterment of the world and brainstorm solutions for current problems, but the AAAS meeting is one of those rare opportunities."

Bishop and Eberhardt were the first place state winners in earth and space science at NCSAS.

According to Bishop, president-elect of NCSAS, their research focused on "using resources that can be found on Mars to serve a practical purpose, such as creating food, to help with future colonization. We used Mars soil simulant and urine simulant to grow an edible cyanobacterium known as spirulina. This research was meaningful because it taps into my love for finding simple solutions to complex problems."

Bishop said, "I am the only Brevard student with the blessing of attending AAAS for a second time. On my first trip, I was able to connect and speak with hundreds of other scientists about my research. I was able to speak to them in a very casual manner and relate to them as my peers. Speaking with someone who is passionate about something you are doing and are in awe of what you have done is an eye opening and amazing experience."

The 2017 AAAS student delegation "is a remarkable group of young people, with great energy, insights, and varied interests," said Ian A. Waitz, dean of engineering at MIT. "With so many challenges in the world and so much to be discovered, it is inspiring to know that many of them will be future leaders in science and technology."

Courtesy Photo

Brevard High School student Sara Megown tests the effect of herbal extracts on Candida albicans in wax moth larvae.

Bishop speaks for all the 2018 AAAS delegates from Transylvania County when he said, "It is truly an honor to be an ambassador for Transylvania County, and by extension our state. We look forward to telling people from around the world about the amazing research that is being done at our high school and the beautiful place we call home."

Travel support for the students has been provided by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Duke Energy Foundation, and the student scientists and their families. However, a balance of $1,200 still remains prior to the Nov. 13 deadline.

Individuals or organizations interested in supporting Transylvania County student scientists with a tax deductible donation directed toward their journey to the 2018 AAAS meeting should contact Jennifer Williams, Brevard High School science instructional leader, via email at jwilliam@tcsnc.org.

Any donation amount will help them reach their goal.

 
 

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