• The TSoG lab was a busy place for science fair projects this past fall! Several of our new Copernicus mentorship students worked on microbiology and chemistry projects in the biochem lab. We have also had a few of our Kepler students working hard on projects that bridge chemistry and engineering over the winter break. We are proud to announce that two of our Copernicus students, Adith Gangalakunta and Simran Misra, won first place at their respective school science fairs!


    Adith won 1st place at Rice middle school in Plano. Adith’s project, titled “Can melatonin help prevent skin cancer?” looked at the photo-protective effects of melatonin. You may be familiar with melatonin as a sleep aid, but it is also an antioxidant. When living organisms are exposed to UV-light it causes an increase in oxidative stress inside the cells; unchecked this oxidative stress wreaks havoc on the cell, causing DNA mutations or even cell death. Antioxidants however, can prevent the damage caused by oxidative stress. Adith used bacteria, a laboratory strain of non-pathogenic E. coli, and irradiated them with two wavelengths of UV light with and without melatonin. He found that melatonin increases survival of UV-irradiated bacteria, indicating it is an effective photo-protective agent.


    Simran won first place in the Earth Sciences category and took grand prize overall at Frankford middle school in Dallas with her project titled “Water we going to do? The effect of soil conditioner on floodwater remediation.” She examined if a readily available, commercial soil conditioner containing the beneficial bacteria Rhodopsuedomonas palustris could be used to remediate flood waters after natural disasters. Many naturally occurring soil bacteria, like R. palustris, produce antibacterial chemicals to help them compete against other bacteria for resources. Simran thought she might be able to utilize this, seeing if R. palustris could reduce the number of coliform bacteria in simulated flood water. Coliform bacteria, a group that contains the bacteria E. coli, are organisms which are sometimes pathogenic, but are a common indicator of fecal contamination in water. She found that after 2 weeks, the samples containing the R. palustris soil conditioner had lower numbers of coliform bacteria than a control – meaning the water quality had improved.


    Both Adith and Simran have advanced and will be presenting at their respective district science fairs followed by the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair on February 24th at Dallas Fair Park. We are so proud of both of them and wish them the best of luck as they compete at regionals!

  • The TSoG lab was a busy place for science fair projects this past fall! Several of our new Copernicus mentorship students worked on microbiology and chemistry projects in the biochem lab. We have also had a few of our Kepler students working hard on projects that bridge chemistry and engineering over the winter break. We are proud to announce that two of our Copernicus students, Adith Gangalakunta and Simran Misra, won first place at their respective school science fairs!

    Adith won 1st place at Rice middle school in Plano. Adith’s project, titled “Can melatonin help prevent skin cancer?” looked at the photo-protective effects of melatonin. You may be familiar with melatonin as a sleep aid, but it is also an antioxidant. When living organisms are exposed to UV-light it causes an increase in oxidative stress inside the cells; unchecked this oxidative stress wreaks havoc on the cell, causing DNA mutations or even cell death. Antioxidants however, can prevent the damage caused by oxidative stress. Adith used bacteria, a laboratory strain of non-pathogenic E. coli, and irradiated them with two wavelengths of UV light with and without melatonin. He found that melatonin increases survival of UV-irradiated bacteria, indicating it is an effective photo-protective agent.

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