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STAR students honored

Fort Zumwalt West High senior Saivaroon Gajagowni has been named a 2014 winner of the LMI Aerospace Inc. Award for Excellence in Research for his work this summer as part of the University of Missouri-St. Louis Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) program.

Gajagowni, along with West High senior Amanda Blythe, and Fort Zumwalt South High senior Aishwarya Mogulothu, participated in the six-week program.

STARS pairs high school juniors and seniors from around the country with top mentors from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, Confluence Discovery Technologies and UMSL, as they conduct research and prepare to present a paper.

Gajagowni worked with Dr. Srikanth Singamaneni, of Washington University in St. Louis, and presented a paper titled “A Comparative Study of Gold Nanorods and Gold Nanorattles for Label-Free Plasmonic Biosensing.”

Of the almost 100 papers prepared during the summer program, the 30 winners of the LMI award best exemplified the difficulty and complexity of research, the appropriateness of the research methodology, its findings, the quality of the writing, and the overall quality of the research process.

Blythe worked with Dr. Steven Mumm, also from Washington University in St. Louis and presented a paper titled “Identification of a Novel Mutation in a Luminal Domain of Phosphatidylserine Synthase 1 where Previous Mutations were Associated with Lenz-Majewski Hyperostotic Dwarfism.”

Mogulothu worked with Dr. Blythe Janowiak from Saint Louis University and presented a paper titled “Detection and Quantification of Salmonella Typhimurium from a Mixed Culture Under Various Conditions.”

In other summer STEM accomplishments, Fort Zumwalt West juniors Rajah Lemons and Alena Stepney  participated in the Bridge Summer Academy Program, which offers students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to attend classes and workshops on the UMSL campus. For four weeks, Lemons and Stepney participated in math and science enrichment courses as well as effective strategies to enhance writing and communication skills.


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