At GHS, Bramante’s Independent Science Researchers Have Another Outstanding Year

Independent Science Research winners from Greenwich High School were honored by the BOE. Science Teacher Andy Bramante gave  short summary of each of the impressive projects. Photo: Leslie Yager

Independent Science Research winners from Greenwich High School were honored by the BOE. Science Teacher Andy Bramante gave short summary of each of the impressive projects. Photo: Leslie Yager

At Thursday’s final BOE meeting for the year, GHS science teacher Andy Bramante gave short summaries of specific independent science research projects from another successful year for the Science Research program.

For the tenth year running, at least one GHS student was selected as a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar.

At the CT STEM Science Fair held in early February, four GHS students participated among 300 participants from the lower Connecticut area, ultimately competing for three Intel ISEF finalist awards. GHS students won two of the three.

At the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair in mid-March, 17 GHS students competed and an astounding 16 of these kids were selected among the top 15% of projects, as fair finalists, and went on to win more than $85,000 in scholarships and cash, and five of the six ISEF spots that are awarded to the best projects.

At the Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities symposium, or JSHS, four of the top five prizes were awarded to GHS researchers, inluding four trips to compete at the National JSHS. There, among the winners from all other states, GHS students received first and second place finishes, totaling more than $20,000.

On the same day, 11 student researchers participated in the NCC Science fair, taking five of the top ten prizes. Two of the research students were selected for prestigious 2019 summer research programs; one for RSI and MIT, and another for the Simons program at SUNY Stonybrook.

And, finally, only weeks ago five GHS students competed among 1,200 of the brightest young minds at Intel ISEF in Phoenix. Results were once again outstanding.

Energy conservation remains at the fore of our efforts to find alternate energies, and lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. Cynthia Chen developed a Smart window thin film using Tungsten-doped Vanadium Dioxide films that would allow infrared sunlight heating of home in the winter, but block it in the summer months.

Halla Clausi developed a rapid,portable, and solar powered detection system for Breast Cancer. In her device, low levels of CA15-13 antigen in a patient’s saliva can distinguish between the normal, healthy condition, as well as stages 1 through 4 of the disease. Her device holds promise as a rapid breast cancer detection system for both developed and underdeveloped regions.

Unlike many of our projects in science research, Sam Florin‘s was more mathematical in scope and focused on Gerrymandering, which is the creation of unfair voting districts for political gain, so that the number of seats received by a party is intentionally misaligned with the percentage of the popular vote.Sam developed a new metric based on graph theory that can examine and assure appropriate alignment of districts, so that it better represents the population relative to the surrounding region.

Many of us depend on plastic utensils and Styrofoam plates for our summer picnics and barbecues. These materials persist in our landfills for hundreds of years. Tyler Fox developed new insulative tableware from cornstarch and a water-repellant thin film, that offers the same insulative properties as Styrofoam, however it decays in a landfill in only days.

Hannah Goldenberg completed a two-year study where she discovered many of the harmful components of e-cigarettes, including significant amounts of diacetyl, which causes irreversible lung damage, known as popcorn lung. She went in to discover that the 50+ harmful components of e-cigarette vapor induce Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Bennett Hawley discovered that bacteria within the gut of the common waxworm can digest, or break down land-fill pollutants such as water bottle plastics and aluminum foil into harmless organic compounds in only days, as compared to the 450 years needed for these persistent pollutants to normally decay.

Hiba Hussain developed a new treatment for heart disease,often caused by accumulation of plaque within a patient’s arteries. Hiba engineered a nanotherapy that can magnetically deliver lipase, a fat dissolving enzyme often found in the pancreas, to the arterial blockage, where her newly devised Smartphone app and sensor would detect plaque dissolution in only minutes.

Recent research findings by Dr. Sam Ramsey (who visited Greenwich High School this spring) has provided compelling evidence that the disappearance of our honey bees can be attributed to the infestation of beehives by Carroa desructor, a bee-specific parasite (mite) that draws the fat bodies (or liver) from honey bees and their larvae. Bee fat bodies are responsible for many important functions that provide overall health to our honey producers, including resistance to pesticides. With these findings it is clear that varroa mites are responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder. In Raina Jain‘s research, she developed a dual-function thymol-emittingbee-hive entrance way that will remove (and kill) varroa mites that are attached to passing bees simply from the rubbing action as bees pass through the holes of the entrance way.

Dengue fever infects close to 400 million people per year, progressing to dangerous stages for many due to lack of detectioninthose regions where it is prevalent. Matt Jester developed an inexpensive, rapid bioluminescent-based biosensor that can detect Dengue at its earliest of stages, in the most remote regions, simply with a few reagents and a flashlight, so that treatment can prevent progression of the disease.

In Autumn Kim’s research, she developed a new honey bee venom peptide (mellitin) PLGA nanotherapy that can successfully cross the blood brain barrier to selectively target cancer cells based on their cell wall lipid content. To date, effective anticancer agents have been unable to pass through the blood brain barrier.

There are dangers posed by liquid electrolytes of lithium ion batteries, and the depletion of lithium as a natural resource, due to reliance on portable devices that use lithium batteries. Alex Kosyakov devised a new battery technology which is the basis of his startup company, that solves both problems. he developed a solid-state sodium-ion battery that is safe, and can be recharged many times over, so that they are particularly useful for renewable energy grids (such as solar,wind, or wave energy generators).

Bacterial contamination of water supplies is an issue that leads to serious illness, particularly in underdeveloped regions. Nick Liu designed an accessory and application for both Android and iPhone smartphones, to convert that typical smartphone into a bacterial in-water detector so that water is easily and rapidly tested, and pollution data is shared via GPS so that remediation can take place right away.

Universal methods to treat cancer reamain difficult due to the specificity of the many forms of the dsease and the desire to eradicate cancer cells while leaving neighboring,healthy cells unharmed. Collin Marino dreamed of and later engineered a unique, precise personalized treatment scheme using deoxyribozymes as nucleic acid probes and molecular logic gates. In his genetic-based cancer treatment, mutations that lead to the formation of cancer calls are detected, triggering formation of cytotoxic proteins during nucleic acid translation. These proteins kill only those cancer cells with the identified mutation.

Water pollution is the focus of Shun Sakai‘s project. Bacterial water contamination particularly by cholera, can cause serious intestinal illness. Shun developed a rapid, simple and effective water filtration device, based on silver nanoparticles, embedded in sari cloth, that when electrified, removes nearly all of the bacteria to make the water safe.

With over 40 million contact lens wearers in the US along, many are susceptible to sight-threatening infection due to poor lens hygiene. Justin Speaker developed an inexpensive and effective lens cleaning system based on the use of riboflavin and UV light, that prevents growth of even the most progressive infectious organisms.

Cheap and easily available renewable energy remains difficult to remote regions. Zachary Wang developed an inexpensive and green biophotovoltaic energy system, made of recycled water bottles and 3D printed flotation grid-holders,that can provide useful energy for those who live nearby to ponds and rivers simply by placing the 6-8 water bottle grid in the standing water.

Although skin melanoma is treatable, it still accounts for nearly 80% of skin cancer related deaths due to poor detection and diagnosis, often by time consuming and expensive biopsies. Melissa Woo tackled this problem and developed a portable smartphone-based system where thermal and color images of the suspected lesion are taken and analyzed by the phone in seconds to produce a diagnosis with >99% accuracy.

Early diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease can lead to better quality of life through management of the symptoms as well as a cure through research with those afflicted in the earliest stages of the disease. For these to occur early diagnosis must be simple and sure. Kyle Xiong developed a computer algorithm that can provide a certain diagnosis of the disease, based on patient data and test results that are currently only marginally successful.