Students, STEM Professionals Honored by Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering

Connecticut by the Numbers

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Connecticut’s most talented young scientists and engineers were honored by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) at its 46th Annual Meeting last week, part of a virtual program that recognized 32 newly elected 2021 members of the Academy, along with 36 members elected in 2020.

Highlights of the event included the presentation to Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, of the 2020 Connecticut Medal of Technology and the presentation to Nancy H. Ruddle, John Rodman Paul Professor Emerita, Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases and Immunobiology, Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine, of the 2021 Connecticut Medal of Science. The presentations were made by Connecticut Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz.

The keynote address was delivered by CASE Member Radenka Maric, Vice President for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the University of Connecticut.

Stand-out students from this year’s Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair, Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, and Connecticut Invention Convention received CASE awards were recognized as part of the meeting.

The H. Joseph Gerber Medal of Excellence and Award of Excellence, established by CASE, were awarded to the top winners of the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair, and the fair's Urban School Challenge Program.

The awards were created to recognize and honor H. Joseph Gerber’s (1924-1996) technical leadership in inventing, developing and commercializing manufacturing automation systems for a wide variety of industries, making those industries more efficient and cost-effective in a worldwide competitive environment.

Student winners honored were:

The 2021 H. Joseph Gerber Medal of Excellence

Ambika Grover, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT; 2021 Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair – 1st Place, Life Sciences-Senior Division; Project: Rapid, Noninvasive, Fluorescence-Based Detection for Elevated Levels of Nitric Oxide in Exhaled Breath, As a Marker for Hazardous PM2.5 Exposure

Autumn Kim, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT; 2021 Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair – 1st Place, Physical Sciences-Senior Division; Project: Design of a Fe304/Bentonite/Graphite Coated Polyurethane Sponge for Economical and Eco-Friendly Oil Spill Recovery

2021 H. Joseph Gerber Award of Excellence

Clayton Nyiri, Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Center, Bridgeport, CT; 2021 Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair – Urban School Challenge High School Winner; Project: The Social Interactions and Learning Abilities Between Dogfish, Observed Using Two Different Methods of Target Training

2021 Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair

Middle School Winner, Urban School Challenge; Snigtha Mohanraj, Engineering and Science University Magnet School, West Haven, CT; Project: Implementation of Metal-Oxide-Induced Agglomeration and Electromagnetic Filtration for Removal of Microplastics

2021 Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

  • 1ST Place: Ambika Grover, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT; Project: Rapid, Noninvasive, Fluorescence-Based Detection for Elevated Levels of Nitric Oxide in Exhaled Breath, As a Marker for Hazardous PM2.5 Exposure
  • 2ND Place: Alexa Nakanishi, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT; Project: Multi Component Fixation Tracking in Gaze Interaction for Rapid, Non-Invasive Diagnosis of Specific Learning Disorders
  • 3RD Place: Kenneth Choi, Ridgefield High School, Ridgefield, CT; Project: Constructing General Hamiltonian Ground States on a Quantum Computer Using the Projected Cooling Sensor Algorithm
  • 4TH Place: William Bernfeld, King School, Stamford, CT; Project: Non-Canonical Base Pairing in Self-Assembling DNA Crystals
  • 5TH Place: Sofia Pronina, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT; Project: Rapid, Low-Cost, Visual Lyme Disease Diagnosis via Lab-on-Chip, Chemiluminescent Detection of Borrelia-Induced Antibodies

2021  Connecticut Invention Convention CASE Awardees

Emily Leszczynsk, Ashford School; Gretchen Kelly, Stafford Middle School; Jason Merchant, Southbury Family Tutorial Co-op; Jeneika Lugg, Jumoke Academy; Jordan Collie, East Granby Middle School; Julia Basseto, Assumption Catholic School; Lora Piper, Lisbon Central School; Nilan Kathir, St. Bridget School; Olivia Orthmann, Putnam Middle School; Ravindu Karunaratne, Hamden Hall Country Day School; Samuel Brittin, Southbury Family Tutorial Co-op; Sia Reddy, Talcott Mountain Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology; Snigtha, Mohanraj, Engineering and Science University Magnet School; Suchita Srinivasan, Dodd Middle School; and Vaughn Coombs, Tolland Middle School.

As part of the program, many of the students had an opportunity to appear briefly, explain their work, and salute the teachers who assisted in guiding them along the way as their individual projects developed. Many of the students also described their plans to pursue STEM subjects at the collegiate level.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Connecticut Medal of Technology and Medal of Science. Nancy H. Ruddle, Professor Emeritus of and Senior Research Scientist in Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine, received the 2021 Connecticut Medal of Science, the state’s highest honor for scientific achievement in fields crucial to Connecticut’s economic competitiveness and social well-being.

Professor Ruddle is a pioneering immunologist who discovered lymphotoxin, an immune signaling molecule or cytokine and demonstrated its roles and mechanisms in cytotoxicity, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes, and in lymph node development.

“Connecticut has a rich history of being home to some of the nation’s leading scientists who are making revolutionary discoveries that have global impacts,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. “Our state’s scientific community reflects our legacy of research and innovation. Professor Ruddle’s paradigm-shifting contributions to our understanding of the immune system, and infectious and autoimmune diseases is a shining example.”

The 2020 Connecticut Medal of Technology was presented to Sikorsky. Sikorsky’s engineering and manufacturing expertise is a significant economic force in the state, with currently 8,400 CT-based employees.

“Connecticut is proud to award the 2020 Connecticut Medal of Technology to Sikorsky,” said Governor Ned Lamont in a statement. “Connecticut is home to the nation’s most innovative and talented aerospace and defense manufacturers and suppliers— and companies like Sikorsky keep us competitive by continuously providing exciting new opportunities for top engineering and science graduates from our state’s colleges and universities. Sikorsky is to be congratulated for their ongoing innovations and commitment to the state of Connecticut and our workforce.”

The Connecticut Medal of Technology is awarded to individuals, teams, and companies/non-profits or divisions of companies/non-profits for their outstanding contributions to the economic, environmental and social well-being of Connecticut and the nation through the promotion of technology, technological innovation, or the development of the technological workforce.

Modeled after the National Medal of Science, the Connecticut award is bestowed by the State of Connecticut, with the assistance of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, in alternate years with the Connecticut Medal of Technology. A full list of previous recipients can be seen at http://www.ctcase.org/medals.html.

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