Many Indian American Students Win Big at 59th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium
File photo of Rishab Jain, of Portland, Ore., who was one of the winners at the 59th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, seen here with his grand prize in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge on Oct. 16, 2018. (Andy Clayton-King/Discovery Education photo)
By GIOVANNI ALBANESE Jr./India-West Staff Reporter
A number of Indian Americans were among the big winners at the 59th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, considered one of the premier showcases for science, technology, engineering and math research by high school students.
The competition, sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force and administered by the National Science Teaching Association, gives students from grades 9-12 a chance to present original scientific research and compete for scholarships and cash awards, while participating in workshops, panel discussions, career explorations, and research lab visits.
This is the second National JSHS event that brought students and researchers together virtually, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Among the first-place winners in oral presentations, winning $12,000 in scholarships each, were Rishab Jain of Westview High School in Portland, Oregon, for Biomedical Science in the Oregon Region; Sahasra Pokkunuri or Old Bridge High School in Matawan, New Jersey, for Medicine & Health/Behavioral Science in the New Jersey Rutgers Region; and Eshani Jha of Lynbrook High School in San Jose, California, for Chemistry in the California No. and W. Nevada Region.
Winning $8,000 scholarships for second-place oral presentations were Pratik Vangal of Sunset High School in Portland, Oregon, for Medicine & Health/Behavioral Science; Varun Chandrashekhar of duPond Manual School of Louisville, Kentucky, for Engineering and Technology; Laalitya Acharya of William Mason High School in Mason, Ohio, for Mathematics and Computer Science; and Ashini Modi of Caddo Parish Magnet High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, for Physical Science.
Among the third-place finishers in oral presentations, winning $4,000 scholarships, were Dheepthi Mohanraj of North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, for Biomedical Science; and Meena Ramadugu of Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for Life Science.
First-place finishers for poster presentations, winning a $550 cash award, were Gitanjali Rao of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, for Environmental Science; Harnoor Sachar of Hackensack, New Jersey, for Biomedical Science; Laboni Santra of Oviedo, Florida, for Life Science; and Aaditya Saha of Chamblee, Georgia, for Chemistry.
Second-place poster presentation winners, claiming a $450 cash price, included Suvin Sundararajan of Westfield, Massachusetts, for Chemistry.
Winning $350 for third-place poster presentations were Aditya Koushik of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in Biomedical Science; and Josh Sanyal of Cupertino, California, in Mathematics and Computer Science.
Others receiving plaques and featured on the JSHS website for their work included Gitanjali Rao in the Environmental Science category; Alay Shah in the Medicine & Health/Behavioral Science category; and Ashini Modi for Best Film, Runner-Up.
The national winners, announced at the virtual awards ceremony, first presented their original scientific research at one of 49 regional competitions hosted by universities and colleges in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Department of Defense Schools of Europe and the Pacific Rim. The top five students from each region—245 high school students in total—then participated in oral or poster presentations during the national event, a press release noted.
The first and second place regional finalists competed for a chance to earn scholarships ranging from $4,000-$12,000, while the third, fourth and fifth place regional finalists competed in the poster competition for a chance to win cash awards, it said.
The peer-selected peer poster awards were given to one poster presenter in each of the eight competition categories. Additionally, national finalists were challenged to create a three-minute mini-film that spoke to their experiences this year through JSHS.
All films were displayed in the National Mini Film Festival and top honors were announced as a part of the JSHS National Awards Ceremony, the release added.
During the 4-day virtual event, administered by the National Science Teaching Association, students also participated in interactive activities including virtual lab tours, DoD opportunities panel, and a virtual exhibit hall that highlighted STEM programs at the institutions and organizations that host regional JSHS competitions.
Approximately 300 high school teachers, mentors, university faculty, ranking military guests, and others also attended.