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Five Jericho High School Students Named Intel Semifinalists

Matthew Lam, Nikko Price, Sahir Raoof, Suki Sun and Yuxin Zhu, all seniors at Jericho High School, were recently named as five of the 300 semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search. The semifinalists of the Intel Science Talent Search were chosen from among approximately 1,600 entrants nationwide. Each of the semifinalists, as well as their schools, receives awards of $1,000 for this honor.

From this group of 300 semifinalists, 40 finalists will be chosen later this month to attend the Science Talent Institute in Washington, D.C. in March. During their trip to Washington, the finalists will participate in a final judging process and share in $630,000 in scholarships. Serena McCalla is the advisor for Matthew, Sahir, Suki and Yuxin. Anthony Scarnati is the advisor for Nikko.

Matthew Lam’s project is titled Pain Management and Education: A Study of Barriers to Pain Control in Chinese American Cancer Patients. “Pain symptoms and characteristics of Chinese American Cancer patient studies have rarely been performed,” explains Lam. “This study therefore explored factors which influenced opioid adherence and consequently the role of education in overcoming barriers to cancer pain remediation in Chinese American cancer patients. Eligible patients were randomized into a teaching group (n=38) and control group (n=37). Patients were given the Barriers Questionnaire-Taiwan form (BQT), the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form and Pain-Specific Treatment Items-Chinese Version (BPI-SF-C), medication adherence measures forms, a questionnaire regarding medication name-recognition, and a socio-demographic form.

The teaching group received an educational pamphlet and a registered nurse explained pain management, side effects of medications, and barriers to pain treatment in Chinese. After 15 days, test groups repeated all questionnaires and independent t-tests support adherence was positively correlated to male gender, higher educational level, and inversely correlated to the BQT score, with p-values less than 0.001. Post-test BQT scores were significantly reduced in the teaching group, while adherence rate, pain intensity and pain interference were significantly improved. This work conclusively demonstrates the importance of an education program implementation in patients’ primary language to increase the quality of life for Chinese American cancer patients in an ambulatory setting.”

Sahir Raoof’s project is entitled Isolating and Optimizing the Radial Electric Field for the Proton Electric Dipole Experiment. “Identification of a proton electric dipole moment (EDM) is the most probable method of explaining the baryon asymmetry of the universe,” states Raoof. “This study aimed to solve two challenges faced by the EDM experiment: 1) differentiating between the effects of a radial electric field and a uniform magnetic field on a particle’s spin precession 2) improving plate conditioning methods to decrease the chances of electrical breakdown. Earth’s residual magnetic field (RMF) adds vertical spin precession to the circulating particles in the same way as a radial electric field (REF). Geometric phase analysis indicated that protons under the RMF precessed differently, circulating clockwise versus counterclockwise, while precession under the REF remained the same. The second challenge was to prevent electrical breakdown resulting from electron field emission due to surface irregularities on high voltage plates used in the EDM experiment. Traditional plate conditioning methods were improved by spark conditioning two plates at minimal gap distances, thereby protecting the plates from high, damaging voltages.

Resolution of these two challenges allows for the detection of an EDM sensitive to 10-29 e·cm, 100 times stronger than the standard model predicts. Future studies into general cleaning procedures and methods to increase spin coherence time of the proton beam will point to new ways of detecting a significant EDM, leading to new physical laws capable of explaining the matter-antimatter imbalance.”

Suki Sun’s project is called Simultaneous High Strength Molasses Wastewater Treatment and Electricity Generation in Microbial Fuel Cells. “Both environmental pollution and the demand for energy are severe problems in modern societies. Factories which produce alcohol, yeast, and cane-based sugar mills have produced high strength molasses wastewater which have negatively impacted the environment. Present treatments method lack sustainability due to heavy cost and abundant energy consumption,” explains Sun. “This study focused on molasses wastewater treatment and electricity generation in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Electricity generation and remediation were compared between two MFC configurations. Pollutants in the wastewater were expressed as chemical oxygen demand (COD) and color. Absorbance methods were used to measure color removal. Power generation ability was evaluated by voltage output and polarization curves. The maximum power density of 253.8 mW/m2 was obtained with a current density of 890.6 mA/m2 when molasses wastewater was employed as the influent; COD efficiencies during 240h operation were achieved 75.4 percent (single chamber) and 64.6 percent (double chamber). The organic components degraded in both MFC’s influent and effluent solutions.

This study demonstrates the feasibility of MFCs to treat molasses wastewater for electricity generation and to provide a promising alternative for environment pollution treatments. Further effort can be focused on combining MFC technology with traditional processes and improving power outputs to scale up MFC configuration for actual applications.”

Yuxin Zhu’s project is Tandutinib Reverses Multi-drug Resistance in Cancer Cells Via Inhibition of ATP-Binding Cassette Subfamily G Member 2. “Multi-drug resistance (MDR) is a phenomenon in which a disease-causing organism actively ejects antineoplastics via drug efflux pumps located on the cell membrane. This condition creates a significant obstacle for clinical chemotherapy because they cause drugs conferring resistance to MDR proteins to become orders of magnitude less effective. The adenosine tri-phosphate binding cassette (ABC) transporters are responsible for the efflux of chemotherapeutic agents from cells, producing the multi-drug resistance (MDR) phenotype in humans,” said Zhu.

“The goal of this experiment is to determine the reversal mechanism of tandutinib, a protein kinase inhibitor. ABCG2, ABCC1, and ABCC10 drug resistant vectors were transfected into HEK/pcDNA3.1 cell line via selection, and a cytotoxicity assay and western blotting involving tandutinib was performed testing tandutinib as a single chemotherapeutic agent and also as a compliment to pre-existing agents. The results showed that tandutinib improved the potency of pre-existing drugs in cells transfected with ABCG2 drug resistant protein and selectively inhibited the activity of ABCG2 protein.

The results from this experiment support the conclusion that in vitro use of tandutinib in conjunction with other drugs improves its overall effectiveness by up to ten fold. While the profile of this drug inside living organisms must still be determined, tandutinib has significant role in reversing MDR and may potentially allow chemotherapy to become significantly more effective.”

Nikko Price’s project, which was submitted in the social science category, is titled Negative News Habituation, Political Knowledge, Media Literacy, and Political Ideology as Factors in Presidential Approval Among High-Achieving, Affluent, Suburban High School Students: An Experiment-Based Empirical Analysis. “After analyzing the effects of negative news habituation, media literacy, and political knowledge, I find that long-held beliefs about the effects of negative news in the media seem to prove false and unqualified,” said Price.

“I find that negative news actually decreases the degree to which the public is influenced by the news media, and that the high school students studied are actually ignorant of the true effect the news media is having on their perception of the President. I conducted a weeklong experiment. On the Monday of the experimental week, a total of about 180 high school students responded to a written survey of 32 questions. All groups (except for the control group) were exposed to a video clip, which negatively portrayed President Obama. After the completion of the clip, they were allowed to return to normal routine. This same viewing procedure repeated itself for the next three days. On the Friday of that week (the last day of the experiment), the experimental groups each watched the fourth video. After completion of this video, however, they were again told to respond to a written survey, which analyzed the effects the clips had on them.”