ARLINGTON, Va. — Not many teenagers, let alone adults, understand the finer points of eye-tracking systems or seawater steam generation — which is why Department of Defense (DoD) researchers are paying close attention to high school students who gathered in the nation’s capital April 23-27 for the 52nd National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium (JSHS).
Sponsored by the departments of the Navy, Army and Air Force, the national symposium represented the culmination of dozens of regional challenges held around the country. Students from private, public and home schools competed by presenting original scientific research, and some of them walked away with thousands of dollars in academic scholarships for their work.
“From energy efficiency and cybersecurity to medical technology and robotics, these young brilliant minds are already wise beyond their years when it comes to complex issues of great importance to both the Navy and the nation,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has intensified outreach and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and has tapped the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the lead agency for this year’s JSHS, to coordinate efforts throughout the service.
“We have to start early in developing more scientists and engineers to stay on the cutting edge,” Klunder said. “About half of the Navy’s scientists and engineers will be eligible for retirement in just a few years, and the students taking part in this symposium will be the ones who fill their shoes.”
JSHS began in 1958 and has grown to include the annual participation of more than 10,000 students and teachers from across the United States, Puerto Rico and DoD schools in Europe and Asia. DoD partners with the Academy of Applied Science to put on the event, which is hosted on a rotating basis by the departments of the Navy, Army and Air Force.
“The outreach potential at an event like this is enormous,” said Chris Fall, ONR’s deputy director of research for STEM. “It introduces Navy leaders to the ideas of some impressive students and allows the students to see how their talents and research could fit into the Navy mission.”
The top five students from 48 regional competitions were invited to this year’s JSHS. The 240 finalists presented their research in oral or poster presentations in seven competition categories, from environmental science to engineering. The top three students from each category won undergraduate tuition scholarships in the amounts of $12,000 for first place, $8,000 for second place and $4,000 for third place.
This year, the first place winners were:
- Environmental Science: David Shipe, Freeport Area Senior High School, Sarver, Pa.
Topic: Investigation of Aquatic Plants and Bacterial Solutions as Efficient Bio-filters to Remove Ammonia from Water
- Life Sciences: Jordan Cadle, Paoli Junior/Science High School, Paoli, Ind.
Topic: Utilizing the Isolated Components, Variation in Mammals, and Treatment Processes of Milk for Grain Yield Enhancements
- Medicine & Health: Adam Illowsky, Ossining High School, Ossining, N.Y.
Topic: The MAPT H1 haplotype is Associated with Increased Clinical and Neuropathological Severity of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
- Mathematics & Computer Science: Yousuf Soliman, Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, Calif.
Topic: Personalized Medical Treatments Using Novel Reinforcement Learning Algorithms
- Physical Science: Viola Mocz, Mililani High School, Mililani, Hawaii
Topic: Helicotoroidal Topology of Leptons, Quarks, and Hadrons
- Chemistry: Carolyn Jons, Eden Prairie High School, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Topic: Improved Efficiency of Seawater Steam Generation Using Carbon Nanoparticles
- Engineering: Neil Movva, The Harker School, San Jose, Calif.
Topic: A Novel Use of Infrared Light in Eye Tracking Systems
Click here for a complete list of winners. For more information on JSHS, visit www.jshs.org.
Eric Beidel is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.