UConn Health Hosts 60th CT Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

Top 5 honorees from the 2023 CT-JSHS will represent Connecticut at the national symposium in Virginia next month

Five students next to banner

From left: High school students Ambika Grover, Snigtha Mohanraj, Aditi Gupta, Naomi Park, and Justin Bernstein will represent Connecticut at the April 2023 National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Virginia Beach. (Image from CT-JSHS, March 4, 2023.)

Five high school students who earned top honors in the Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (CT-JSHS), sponsored by UConn Health and organized by the Connecticut Area Health Education Center (CT AHEC), will represent the state at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in April.

The 60th annual symposium took place Saturday at UConn Health in Farmington. For the past two years, COVID-19 restrictions had required the event to be held virtually. Organizers of CT-JSHS selected 37 of the 60 student applicants to present their original research findings to a virtual panel of judges on Feb. 26 and to a live audience of their peers on March 4. Another 23 students took part in a noncompetitive online research poster exhibition.

“For so many talented high school students, this symposium becomes the launching point for a rewarding career in science, engineering, or health care,” said Brittany Knight ’19 Ph.D., director of the CT-JSHS program. “I was really impressed by the quality of the research this year. These students will do a great job representing Connecticut at the national symposium next month.”

Of the 17 students who orally presented their original research in the science, technology, engineering, or math fields, four were chosen to be part of the Connecticut delegation to the National JSHS April 12–15 in Virginia Beach.

1st Place: Ambika Grover, senior, Greenwich High School, for her research involving design of a more effective emergency therapeutic treatment for ischemic stroke.

2nd Place: Snigtha Mohanraj, sophomore, Engineering and Science University Magnet School, West Haven, for development of an inexpensive, eco-friendly filter for efficient removal of contaminants from the water supply.

3rd Place: Aditi Gupta, senior, Ridgefield High School, for her investigation of how consumption of artificial sweeteners impacts hunger perception in flies.

4th Place: Naomi Park, junior, Greenwich High School, for creation of a practical and efficient method for removing carbon dioxide and crude oil from water utilizing materials made from Styrofoam waste. As the highest-ranked junior at the symposium, she also earned the UConn Academic Excellence Scholarship.

The fifth member of the Connecticut delegation to the national symposium is the top finisher among the 20 competitors who presented their research in poster format:

1st Place Poster Presenter: Justin Bernstein, sophomore, Greenwich High School, for his research on a novel therapeutic nanoparticle treatment designed to dissolve plaque buildup in arteries.

Other top-placed presenters are:

5th Place Oral Presenter: Grace Kistner, senior, Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Center

Kistner and Samantha Verdejo, a senior at Ridgefield High School, each were awarded the Backyard Scientist Award. This honor goes to students who may not have had access to summer research programs or professional labs but made creative use of resources “in their own backyards.”

6th Place Oral Presenter: Ashley Malkin, sophomore, Greenwich High School

7th Place Oral Presenter: Paris Bazemore, senior, Manchester High School

8th Place Oral Presenter: Isabella Wu, junior, Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford

9th Place Oral Presenter: Benjamin Persily, senior, King School, Stamford

10th Place Oral Presenter: Angelina Fogarty, senior, Greenwich High School

2nd Place Poster Presenter: Avery Horn, senior, Darien High School

3rd Place Poster Presenter: Audrey Lin, junior, Greenwich High School

The sponsors of the scholarship awards and cash prizes are the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, Connecticut Science Supervisors Association, the Connecticut Science Teachers Association, and the UConn Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Additionally, CT-JSHS was made possible by sponsorship from UConn Health and Connecticut Area Health Education Center, under contract with the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA). The Connecticut symposium is part of the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force Junior Science and Humanities Symposia Program.