Dunbar Students Compete at State Science Fair

On March 24, several Dunbar students competed and won awards at the Kentucky Science and Engineering Fair.

Every March, Lexmark sponsors the Kentucky Science and Engineering Fair (KY-SEF) at Eastern Kentucky University for select students who advance from the regional fair. On Saturday, five special awards were awarded to Dunbar students, 14 placed in the top three for their category and junior Rachel Seevers was third overall. Seevers and senior David Ma will be advancing to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which takes place in Pittsburgh in May.

The majority of Dunbar students who participate are in the Math, Science and Technology Center (MSTC) and compete with their required 360-hour Capstone research project. One such student is senior Vaaragie Subramaniam.

Subramaniam completed her project, titled “Aggregated Red Blood Cells Mediate Amylin Deposition”, at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences. She chose this project because of her interest in diabetes, which runs in her family.

Her attitude towards competition was to “Go for it, act with confidence… and don’t say ‘I don’t know’.”

What I like about science fair is it’s an opportunity to present the work that you’ve done and are proud of… You get the chance to interact with students and community members while also competing.

— Senior Sunny Ghuneim

Subramaniam plans to attend U.K. in the fall and continue her research.

Senior Amy Cline completed her project, “Retrofitting of Buildings for Earthquakes using Carbon Fibers,” in the Civil Engineering Department at U.K.

“I was really interested in natural disasters and I knew that Kentucky had a big hazard with the New Madrid fault line so I wanted to try to find a way to help reduce the amount of damage that they cause so that we can be prepared for the next earthquake,” Cline said.

Cline has committed to U.K. and plans to study engineering, but is unsure of her research plans. “I might want to try and explore other areas of research, other than civil [engineering].”

Senior Sunny Ghuneim competed with a continuation project from last year titled “Adult Infection and the Stability of the Helicoverpa sea Nudivirus.” Ghuneim conducted research in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Kentucky under Dr. Bruce Webb. This is her seventh science fair.

“What I like about science fair is it’s an opportunity to present the work that you’ve done and are proud of… You get the chance to interact with students and community members while also competing,” Ghuneim said.

The judging process varies significantly between the district, regional and state fairs.

“Usually, judges let you present then follow up with questions, but sometimes they jump right into asking about the results and such. It’s really about being able to adjust to the type of presentation that they expect you to give, but overall, it’s a lot of fun,” Ghuneim said.

Ghuneim placed third in animal sciences and, though her college plans are undecided, she plans to work in two laboratories over the summer and hopes to continue doing research as an undergraduate.

Though only two Dunbar students will advance to Intel, the state science fair was far from the end for others who competed on Saturday. The juniors are only beginning their Capstone projects, which they will continue through their senior year. The seniors, on the other hand, are still preparing for the MSTC Senior Symposium. At this annual event, seniors showcase their research to parents, fellow students and members of the public.

This year’s symposium will take place on April 28 at 8:00 a.m. at Dunbar.