STEM Symposium for CT High School Students at UConn Health

The top five honorees from the 2024 Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (CT-JSHS) will represent the state at the national symposium in New Mexico in May.

Five people holding certificates in front of projector screen

From left: Antonia Kolb, Ashley Malkin, Snigtha Mohanraj, Harshil Yerrabelli, and Cole Galla (not pictured) are the top honorees from the 2024 Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, selected to represent Connecticut at the May 2024 National JSHS in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dina Watson (right) will serve as an alternate. (Photo provided by CT-JSHS.)

Five Connecticut high school students will represent the state at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) in May after earning top honors in the Connecticut regional symposium at UConn Health in Farmington.

CT-JSHS is sponsored by UConn Health and organized by the Connecticut Area Health Education Center (CT AHEC).

Organizers of the 61st annual CT-JSHS selected 35 of the more than 80 student applicants to present their original research to a virtual panel of judges on February 18th and to a live audience of their peers Feb. 24. An additional 34 students took part in a noncompetitive online research poster exhibition.

“Our hope is that the research these talented students have conducted and presented here today will be just the first step in a rewarding career in science, engineering, or healthcare,” said Dr. Brittany Knight, director of the CT-JSHS program. “I’m so impressed by the quality of their work. These students will make Connecticut proud at the national symposium in May.”

Of the 15 students who were chosen to give oral presentations of their original research in the science, technology, engineering, or math fields, the top four will be part of the Connecticut delegation to the National JSHS May 1-4 in Albuquerque, New Mexico:

1st Place Oral Presenter: Antonia Kolb, senior, King School, Stamford, for developing DETICKT IT, a mobile app to identify ticks and assess tick-borne disease risk.

2nd Place Oral Presenter: Snigtha Mohanraj, junior, Engineering and Science University Magnet School, West Haven, for synthesizing an affordable, efficient filtering material for removing microplastics and oil from contaminated water. As the highest-ranked junior at the symposium, Mohanraj also earned the UConn Academic Excellence Scholarship.

3rd Place Oral Presenter: Harshil Yerrabelli, junior, Conard High School, West Hartford, for research on a quantum computing method for classifying Alzheimer’s disease.

4th Place Oral Presenter: Ashley Malkin, junior, Greenwich High School, for study of a means of transporting medications across the blood-brain barrier for treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, brain cancer, and strokes.

The fifth member of the Connecticut delegation to the national symposium will be the top finisher among the 20 competitors who were selected to present their research in poster format:

1st Place Poster Presenter: Cole Galla, senior, Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center, for research on synthesizing optical lenses using the Kerr effect, in which application of electrical voltage alters a lens’s refractive index.

“Whether you are interested in helping us pursue research advancements to prevent heart attacks or strokes — or stopping environmental pollution, remember — if you work hard and you do the right things, everything is possible,” Dr. Bruce T. Liang, medical school dean and interim UConn Health CEO, told the attendees.

Other top-placed presenters are:

5th Place Oral Presenter: Dina Watson, senior, Manchester High School. (Dina also won the Backyard Scientist Award, which honors 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: Chloe Atkins, senior, Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center

7th Place Oral Presenter: Zara Haque, junior, Greenwich High School

8th Place Oral Presenter: Sophie Shen, senior, Ridgefield High School

9th Place Oral Presenter: Nivrith Ananth Iyer, sophomore, Engineering and Science University Magnet School, West Haven

10th Place Oral Presenter: Zoe Monschein, senior, Greens Farms Academy, Westport

2nd Place Poster Presenter: Ana-Lois Davis, senior, Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, Windsor

3rd Place Poster Presenter: Keller Hall, senior, Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center

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.

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.