Research Students Win Awards at State Science Fair, Mertzlufft to Compete at International Fair

four students standing in a science lab

BH-BL High School and Science Research students rake in the awards at the Greater Capital Region Science and Engineering Fair (GCRSEF), which is a state-level fair for the International Science and Engineering Fair sponsored by Regeneron. Congratulations to the following students for their incredible work, dedication, and success:

High School Science Research senior Lilly Mertzlufft was awarded prizes from both the Army and Navy as well as first place out of more than 70 projects! She will now represent New York State at the International Science and Engineering Fair being held May 11-17 in California. At this fair, she will present her award-winning research along with nearly 1,700 other students from around 80 different countries and territories from around the world. Lilly’s project studied ways to improve airflow for aeronautical systems. Her project is titled An Investigation of Jet Assisted Surface Mounted Actuators in Laminar and Turbulent Boundary Layers. She worked with Professor Michael Amitay and Mr. John Wylie, RPI, Center for Flow Physics and Control while conducting her research.

High School Science Research senior Jack Stuhlman won the Dudley Observatory Award for an outstanding project in the space sciences. Jack’s project used a novel concept of a binary dwarf system to simulate tidal stream formations. It is titled N-body Simulation of  a Binary Dwarf galaxy infall and applications to the Sagittarius Tidal Stream. He worked closely with Professor Heidi Newberg, RPI, Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy during his research.

High School Science Research junior Emily Pearson won the top prize in medicine–The Regeneron George Yancopoulos Award–for the project that demonstrates the most creativity in improving or identifying health issues in an individual. Emily studied a new way to potentially treat Parkinson’s Disease using ultrasound Her research project is titled Neuroprotective Role of Focused Ultrasound  of the Celiac Plexus in a  Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease. She has been conducting her research with Dr. Damian Shin, Albany Medical Center, Department of of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics.

High school junior Ethan Reyes was awarded the GCRSEF Excellence in Computer Science Award for the project that demonstrates innovative use of computer programs to address an important problem facing society.  He completed this project in Mrs. Clapper’s computer science class.  His project was designed to modify an existing algorithm to improve driving directions (such as Google Maps) for vehicles with momentum. (His project is titled An Algorithm for Edge Generation in Graphs of Real World Vertex Fields for Travel with Momentum Constraints.

The Science Research course, which is an intense, research-based three-year program, began 25 years ago when Reals came to the high school and brought her prior experience and knowledge with such a program to BH-BL. The program has evolved over the years and is affiliated with SUNY Albany where students can earn 12 college credits while in high school. Many students who went through this program over the years have gone on to secure medical degrees, Ph.Ds, and professional doctorates.

This course is all encompassing, adds Reals. Along with conducting high-level research, students must also learn to sharpen other skills, including interpersonal skills needed for communicating and collaborating with their mentors, public speaking skills needed when presenting their research and findings to competition judges, and the writing and communication skills needed to translate their research data findings into written and oral presentations in a format that can be comprehended by those who don’t have the same in depth knowledge that the students have of the subject matter.

“Among the many benefits of this course, the gem is that the sky’s the limit when it comes to selecting a topic to research,” says Reals. “We look for students to join this program who not only have a passion to learn but who also have an intrinsic desire to learn more about a certain field including, science, engineering, and psychology. This program is aimed at providing an outlet for the incredible energy those students possess.”