On March 13-14, Shady Side Academy junior Steven D. Liu won first place and a $2,000 scholarship to any university at the virtual Pennsylvania Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (PA-JSHS) competition for his research paper entitled Optimizing Nannochloropsis Growing Conditions for Biodiesel Production Through Analysis of Lipid Content. He is one of two students who will represent Pennsylvania at the virtual 59th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposia on April 14-17, where he will give an oral presentation.
The paper is the result of an independent study course Liu has been taking since September of last year. Through the study, he has discovered how to maximize the practicality of biodiesel fuel for use in all current diesel engines. He hopes the industry may use his finding and positively impact the environment.
"I received tremendous support and guidance from my mentor, [science teacher] Dr. Devon Renock," Liu said. "He helped me to set up the gas chromatograph and install the new column, which are crucial steps to collecting my data. Ms. [Kristine] Cooper, a former math teacher at Shady Side, spent many hours teaching me the statistics knowledge to help analyze my data."
Liu also credits Dr. Joseph Martens and the Senior School Science Department, Senior School Head Trixie Sabundayo and Dr. Scott Peterson for their help in making this successful project possible, and science teacher Heather Fani for assisting him with the science fair applications.
JSHS is designed to challenge, engage and publicly recognize students in grades 9-12 conducting research in the sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Individual students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research efforts before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Participants receive opportunities for career exploration, research lab visits, peer discussions and networking.