Scholary Writing Challenge 2016 Winners

2016 Winners

The Best Overall (and Best in Biological Sciences) 

Arani Kulamurugan

Bio: Arani Kulamurugan is a grade 11 student at Marc Garneau CI’s TOPS program. She’s always had an intense desire to know more about neuroscience, and could whole-heartedly say that it’s the love of her life. Other than her interests in science, she also enjoys singing, advocating for the bees, and writing for her blog.

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to examine the therapeutic use of Acetylcholine Chloride to reduce the Parkinson-like effects induced by Rotenone in Lymnaea Stagnalis through the righting test, and to determine which concentration of Acetylcholine Chloride would help reverse, or repair the damages done by Rotenone. The righting test is used throughout the research as a reasonable measurement of the locomotive abilities of the Lymnaea Stagnalis in different conditions. The righting test was done after exposure to dechlorinated water, Rotenone, and Acetylcholine Chloride. Ninety-six subjects went through the three conditions, and the righting test was measured after exposure to each condition and different concentrations of Acetylcholine Chloride to help determine which concentration had the most effect.

Best in Environmental Sciences

Roi Levy

Bio: Roi is a Grade 12 student at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute. Having had an interest in environmental sustainability since he was young, Roi wishes to apply his scientific expertise in the field of business. He hopes to make a positive impact on the world and has already begun contributing to a prosperous and better future for those around him.

Cultivating coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi is a promising strategy for carbon sequestration through photosynthesis as well as through biomineralaization of calcium carbonate scales known as coccoliths. Coccolithophores also produce high amounts of lipids which have a potential application as a renewable fuel. This project focuses on designing and constructing a novel, scalable, portable, closed photobioreactor that optimizes the growth of E. huxleyi algae to address three sustainability issues: bioremediation through pollution control, the production of biomass and the yield of renewable biofuel. E. huxleyi CCMP371 were screened for their productivity in various limiting factors including pH, and concentration levels of phosphor and sodium. The productivity of E. huxleyi was determined by its optical density as reflected by 680nm absorbance measurements using a spectrophotometer. Growth of E. huxleyi in a laboratory scale closed photobioreactor showed that the highest productivity was achieved by 600 mg/L of NaNO3, 750 mg/L of Na2HPO3 and pH of 7.5 which is closest to the ocean pH of 8.2. The investigation yields the optimal growth conditions necessary for large scale cultivation. The system is characterized by the regulation of physical and chemical parameters, reduced risk of contamination, limited evaporation, controllable hydrodynamics and continuous biomass harvesting. At dusk, as solar radiation is reduced, a water-proof, low cost, efficient, and wavelength specific set of LEDs is activated by a light sensor to maximize productivity.

Best in Mathematics

Alex Le Blanc

Bio: Alex is currently in his first year of engineering at Queen’s University. He completed the Full IB extended french program last year at St. Mary’s High School and currently plays on the Queen’s Varsity Water Polo team.

Abstract: In Canada, cancer is the leading cause of death. The development of mathematical models in medicine may offer a solution in the fight against cancer. Studies have shown that fractal analysis may be used to describe the irregular structures that are characteristic of cancerous tumors. This paper will attempt to answer the question, “How does fractal analysis enhance cancer diagnosis and treatment?” I present what are fractals, fractal geometry and fractal dimension, outline two basic computation methods to calculate fractal dimension: Walking-Divider and Box-Counting, and review the literature to explore the value and limitations of fractal dimension analysis as a diagnostic tool in the diagnosis of cancer.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the potential of fractal dimension to describe and quantify the structural changes that occur in the tumor contour, vascular architecture and cellular and nuclear morphology during carcinogenesis. Clinical imaging studies correlates changes in fractal dimension with tumor growth and tumor regression with therapeutic treatment. In some cases, researchers have been able to establish a threshold in fractal dimension value between healthy and cancerous specimens and others have demonstrated that fractal dimension analysis can detect changes earlier in the progression of the tumor than other conventional methods.

Although fractal dimension analysis in cancer research yields great hope in detecting malignancy, it also presents limitations associated with the lack of standardization of the complex computerized mathematical models and the challenge of producing quality images and histological specimens for analysis. Further research is needed to establish fractal analysis as a predictive indicator for cancer detection, progression and treatment.

Best in Physical Sciences

Jonathan Han

Bio: Jonathan is a Grade 12 student at Burnaby North Secondary School. He is interested in the fields of chemistry and biology, and wishes to pursue a career in research and academia. Jonathan has conducted research in the natural and engineering sciences at Simon Fraser University and the University of California.

Abstract: Commercial adhesives are rendered ineffective in the presence of moisture, and catechol-functionalized synthetic wet adhesives lose adhesiveness in saline solutions. Aspects of marine contact adhesion have been frequently translated to synthetic systems over the last decade, and recent investigations showed the cation-π interaction to be a possible contributor to marine bioadhesion. In our investigations, we present an effective cation-π functionalized wet saline adhesive capable for use in biomedical and marine applications. An adhesive film consisting of copolymers of non-catecholic aromatic groups with negative, π terminals and positive, cationic terminals was optimized for adhesive strength on stainless steel in a buffered saline using a PT-1000 Polyken “Probe Tack” machine. The optimized copolymer film drew tack values of ≅41N/cm2 in simulated bodily salinity, indicating immense viability. In addition, investigations were performed to characterize the nature of the cation-π interaction’s contribution to adhesiveness in the system.