3 local student scientists win grand prizes at fair


Three Howard County students captured grand prize awards at the Baltimore Science Fair last weekend, earning trips to an international high school science competition in Canada next month.

Oakland Mills High School senior Seema Mishra won the grand prize in biology, and Atholton High School senior Jonathan Edwards and junior Mani Mahjouri won for their team project in physical science.

The two grand prizes were among the 88 awards captured by Howard County students during the 40th annual science fair, held March 25-26 at Towson State University and sponsored by the school and the Kiwanis Clubs of Towson and Baltimore.

More than 130 exhibits were displayed at the fair from high school students in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties. Organizers presented more than 250 awards at the conclusion of the fair.

The three grand prize winners and the teachers who sponsored their projects will represent the Baltimore area in Hamilton, Ontario, May 7-13 at the International Science and Engineering Fair. In addition to their all-expenses-paid trip, the three students each received $100 scholarships.

The Atholton students' project was titled "Monte Carlo Simulation of Saturn's Hydrogen Torus." Working with the help of a scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the pair created a computer simulation to attempt to explain the irregular distribution of hydrogen atoms around Saturn -- something discovered by the Voyager spacecraft.

"We're both really into physics, and this fit into our interests really well," said Jonathan, 17, of Clarksville.

Added his partner Mani, 16, of Columbia: "So far, we think our explanation works, but we're not completely sure. We're still working on it and testing our theory."

The other grand prize winner, Seema Mishra of Oakland Mills, designed a project titled "Complementation Tests to Detect the Phage-Encoded Lysozyme Gene in DNA Recombinants." She searched for a gene in enzymes that causes the degradation of cell walls.

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