These past winners were all students who showed unusual initiative and creativity in solving problems.
The scholarship program welcomes applicants who demonstrate creativity in any field.
Sivan Battat, Woodbridge, CT (Amity High School, Woodbridge, CT/ ACES-ECA, New Haven, CT) Having grown up in a Jewish community that made her aware of the concept of genocide and the phrase “never again” at an early age, Sivan Battat found herself growing increasingly disturbed at her peers’ lack of awareness of the ongoing crisis in Darfur, Sudan. After consulting a local Holocaust survivor and a Darfur survivor, Sivan wrote and produced an original play entitled Forever Running as a vehicle for increasing young people’s awareness of genocide. The play melded perspectives rooted in the Holocaust with perspectives drawn from contemporary violence in Darfur to dramatize the pain and suffering of the victims of genocide. It has been performed for over 1000 students. Sivan plans to major in theatre at Wesleyan University, where a continuing area of interest will be the potential of theatre to help ignite social change.
Emily Briere, Mansfield, CT (E. O. Smith High School, Storrs, CT) Emily Briere recognized that her school had a communication problem: phone trees were inefficient and ineffective and announcements on the PA system tended to be ignored; students often learned too late about cancelled soccer games or changed homework assignments; and the only way students could let parents know that they needed to be picked up after returning from a field trip was for each student to call a parent on his or her cell phone. But social media that students used to communicate with one another were off limits for school officials due to privacy concerns and teachers’ reluctance to “friend” scores of students. Emily worked with students, teachers, parents, counselors and software engineers to develop a web-based communications infrastructure that allows students, teachers and parents in her school to be better-informed and more connected to others who share common interests. Her innovative problem-solving did more than cut much of the frustration created by miscommunication: it saved the school thousands of dollars previously spent on paper and postage. She hopes to spread the technology to other high schools in the state. Next year she will study engineering at Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University.
Anca Dogariou, Woodside, NY (Stuyvesant High School, NY) Anca Dogariou understood the importance of visual span tests to diagnose reading problems such as dyslexia, but was troubled by the fact that existing tests that worked well for adults were problematical in evaluating reading problems in young children. Anca devised an innovative test for visual span, and tested it on young children and adults, with good results. The self-paced test she created and tested, which runs on Microsoft Powerpoint, an application which is readily available, has great potential as a screening tool for dyslexia and other reading problems in children. Next year she will study psychology and pre-medical studies at the State University of New York, Binghamton.
Jenny Liu, Orange, CT (Amity Regional High School, Woodbridge, CT) In a world in which robots are becoming an increasingly integral part of everyday life, creating robots that can learn new tasks from natural human instruction is a key challenge. Conventional studies of machine-learning focus on technology that can help robots better interpret information given by human users (such as improved voice recognition, etc.) Jenny Liu’s research took a different approach. Recognizing that this learning process for robots is often limited by the time and attention that people are willing to invest in teaching a robot, Jenny Liu decided to learn more about what qualities in a robot prompt human beings to spend the extra time needed to teach it new tasks. Her research demonstrated that robots that expressed consistent and coherent emotions were able to elicit more and better feedback from human users. Her discovery that endowing robots with believable emotional responses can add significantly to the time and energy their human teachers are willing to give them has important implications for the field of social robotics. Next year she plans to study computer science and sociology at Harvard University.
Omar Sobh, Shelton, CT (Shelton High School). Omar Sobh was intrigued by the medical mystery of why astronauts returning from space trips are more vulnerable to infection, particularly given the possibility that NASA or other organizations might eventually schedule long-term commercial trips to outer space. Would the travelers’ immune system be affected, he wondered? How might biological pathogens develop differently in space? Melding insights he gleaned from his experience volunteering with Emergency Medical Services and interning in Obstetrics and Gynecolocy at Yale-New Haven hospital with what he learned in classes in biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and physics, Omar framed a stellar research project on the effect of gravity on bacterial cell walls. The research struck NASA as important enough to send into space. Omar will attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he will major in biology and concentrate in neurobiology.
Peter Zhan Foster City, California (Aragon High School, San Mateo, CA). Peter Zhan was stuck by the fact that while there was an increasing amount of quantitative research on the impact of global warming on the physical world, research into the impact of global warming on biological systems was generally descriptive and inexact. He decided to integrate his knowledge of calculus, chemistry, biology and statistics to design a project that statistically quantified the effects of global warming on primitive biological organisms. He conceived of the project, designed the protocols, and carried out the experiments and analyses. His award-winning research quantified the ways in which bacteria’s metabolic rates and simple chemical reaction rates were affected by temperature change, a topic that has potentially important significance for environmental science. Next year he plans to major in chemical engineering at Yale University.
Titania Green, Bridgeport, CT (Central Magnet High School, Bridgeport Regional Acqualture Science & Technology Education Center, Bridgeport CT). Titania Green was concerned about pollution in the Long Island Sound. Nitrogen being continuously discharged into the Sound was promoting the excessive growth of algae, which in turn was preventing enough sunlight from reaching shallow areas where submerged aquatic vegetation grew--plants that served as a habitat for shellfish and juvenile fish. Titania came up with an experiment that replicated local pollution levels in the lab to explore whether local oysters could help remove excess nitrogen from the waters around them. She is submitting her original findings to a scientific journal. Next year she will major in Environmental Studies at Green Mountain College.
Claire Pershan, Hamden, CT (Hopkins School, New Haven). When she learned that budget cuts had forced schools in New Haven to reduce or in some cases eliminate arts and music programs entirely, Claire Pershan recalled how important music had been to hear own learning experience in school, and decided to take action. Since music and the arts have been essential to Claire Pershan’s own learning experience. Determined to prevent inner-city students in New Haven from being deprived of the opportunity to make music themselves, Claire created “Vocal for Change,” a performing a capella choral group for children in two New Haven schools. Next year she will be studying education, English and environmental studies at Pomona College.
Qu Siying, China and La Grange, NC (Arendell Parrott Academy, Kinston, NC; Wayne Country Day School, Goldsboro, NC). During the nineteen-hour plane ride from China to the U.S., Qu Siying found it impossible to find a comfortable position for sitting or sleeping in her coach-class seat. Her body ached for two days from the contortions she had put it through. Months later that nineteen-hour trip in the other direction was an even greater ordeal for her American host mother, whose medical problems made it even harder for her to sit comfortably. Qu Siying decided to address this problem by using fabric and metal rods to modify a laptop bag into an innovative seat-extender that folds to the size of a laptop (with a strap that lets it be carried on board as hand luggage) to provide greater comfort for airline travelers. Next year she will study design at Parsons School of Design, hoping to learn the professional skills she needs to work as a fashion designer when she returns home to China.
Joel Luis Suarez, New Haven, CT (Cooperative Arts and Humanities Highs School, New Haven, CT; Eli Whitney High School, Hamden, CT). Joel Suarez never lost sight of the fact that he came from “a low-income urban community in the state with the largest achievement gap in the United States.” He also recognized how crucial it was to him to have had the chance to learn filmmaking techniques from a local non-profit media design studio. To give children younger than himself a sense that they, too, could find pleasure and satisfaction in the creative arts, Joel designed and taught film workshops for “at risk” youth in New Haven. Next year he plans to major in film at Quinnipiac University.
Emily (Leah) Kate Larson (Sharon, MA)
Recognizing that observant young Jewish women found no publication that addressed people like themselves, Leah Larson created a magazine to fill that void. Yaldah, the magazine for young Jewish girls that she launched, not only fills a need by providing a publication for a group that had trouble seeing their own interests and values reflected in print previously--it also provides an creative outlet for expression for these young women. Ms. Larson’s high school experience was a combination of the Bais Chomesh school in Toronto and homeschooling; after completing a year of study at the Beit Chana Seminary in Israel, she will attend Stern College of Business at New York University, where she will study business and entrepreneurial studies, English, and graphic design.
Alexander Hanyu Lin (Westerly, RI)
Distressed by the volume of electronic waste produced in his community, Alexander Lin came up with some innovative ways of addressing the problem, while at the same time spreading information technology to places where it is greatly needed. Whether he was initiating a computer recycling program in his community, refurbishing over 300 computers, and collecting large quantities of e-waste, or whether he was educating his community, working to successfully get e-waste legislation passed, and raising funds to create “A Green Bridge across the Digital Divide,” he has made a difference in both his own community and a number of other communities around the world. His efforts have resulted in the creation of computer centers in the USA, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Mexico, Kenya and the Philippines that provide resources and opportunities of the internet to over 7000 individuals. Mr. Lin, who spent part of his high school career at the Westerly High School in Westerly, Rhode Island, is a graduate of the Williams School in New London, Connecticut. He will attend Stanford University, where he plans to major in chemical engineering.
Manju Mukesh Malkani (Lyndhurst NJ)
Manju Malkani’s observations in a rural clinic in India made her aware of a more widespread problem that disturbed her: Indian teaching hospitals were not providing sorely-needed training in mental health to medical practitioners. To address this problem, she worked with experts in child psychiatry in the U.S. to develop a series of up-to-date, evidence-based medical lecture modules which are now being streamed to teaching hospitals in India. Ms. Malkani, who is a graduate of Academies@Englewood, will attend Stern School of Business at New York University, where she plans to major in marketing.
Jacob Donald Ness (New Milford, CT)
Avoiding herbicides and pesticides while growing edible and cost-effective crops is a key challenge faced by organic farmers everywhere. Jacob Ness addressed this challenge as it pertains to edible pumpkins in the Northeast. Rather than simply accepting that were no edible pumpkin varieties that were resistant to powdery mildew, a bane of farmers across the Northeastern U.S., he decided to try to try to create one. His painstaking and inspired experiment allowed him to develop a strain of pumpkins that is both resistant to powdery mildew, and edible--an achievement that will have potentially important implications for organic farmers, making it much more economical for them to grow an appealing vegetable without harming the environment. He is currently a junior at New Milford High School.
Lorissa Nguyen Pham (Portland OR )
Since vitamin B12 is understood as coming from animal sources rather than plant sources, B12 deficiencies are a well-known problem confronting both vegetarians and people in developing countries who eat little meat. Lorissa Pham undertook a creative experiment to find a vegetable-based source of B12 to help address this problem. Her preliminary success at developing just such a source in cabbage fermented with Lactobacillus offers intriguing possibilities for developing countries. Ms. Pham, who is a graduate of Oregon Episcopal School, will attend Yale College, where she plans to double-major in biology and creative writing.
Aayush H. Upadhyay (Miramar, FLA)
Most students with perfect scores on virtually any standardized test they took would be pleased with the congratulations they would get from teachers and parents and would be resigned to the inevitable envy they would get from their peers. But Aayush Upadhyay’s response was different: he analyzed the test-taking skills and attitudes that helped him succeed on these tests, and developed a method for teaching them to his fellow students. His school’s principal confirms that the innovative strategies he taught his peers helped raise their test scores significantly. Mr. Upadhyay, who is a graduate of Somerset Academy in Pembroke Pines, Florida, will attend Yale College, where he plans to major in computer science.
Jourdan Brandt Urbach (Roslyn Heights, NY)
As a talented and accomplished young musician, Jourdan Urbach became aware of the unique ways in which music and medicine together could improve pain-management and healing. He used that insight to help empower other young musicians like himself to save lives through music. “Concerts for a Cure,” sponsored by the philanthropic organization he created, “Children Helping Children,” has encouraged young conservatory musicians to hold fund-raising concerts for a wide range of music therapy programs for children in major medical centers across the country. His efforts have raised millions for the fight against neurological diseases in children, funding innovative medical projects that change the way children are being healed in our hospitals. Mr. Urbach, a graduate of Roslyn High School, will attend Yale College, where he plans to major in neuropsychology and music.
Anna K. Wallant (Ridgefield, CT)
Anna Wallant’s interest in art therapy and the environment combined to prompt her to embark on a project that had positive implications for both. Troubled by the fact that tremendous numbers of old crayons--which are not biodegradable--simply go to waste in her community, she launched a used-crayon drive and came up with an innovative and well-executed plan to recycle them. She developed a method for melting the crayons down and molding them into new distinctive, multi-colored crayons which she enveloped in wrappers bearing messages that encouraged creativity; she then packaged the appealing and functional new crayons in attractive, biodegradable, environment-friendly containers and distributed them to area art therapists. Ms. Wallant, who is a graduate of The Harvey School in Katonah, New York, will attend Pratt Institute, where she plans to major in art education and industrial design.
2010 Honorable Mentions
Heather Leask (Bozrah, CT)
conducted innovative and painstaking original research on how to fabricate devices with memristive properties, an important and promising area in electrical engineering. A graduate of Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, CT, she plans to major in chemical engineering at the University of Connecticut.
Stephane E. Fouché (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
addressed the challenges faced by other students who, like himself, grew up speaking a language other than English before immigrating to the U.S. by creating One World Mentoring, a peer-mentoring and peer-tutoring program designed to help ESL students in his school, Spring Valley High School in Spring Valley, New York. He will attend Harvard College, where he plans to major in international relations.
Amber S. Moye (New Haven, CT)
was troubled by the fact that young African American women in middle school in New Haven were being given little guidance as they made the transition to high school. When she recognized that they would benefit greatly from being mentored by high school students who shared their background and appreciated the special challenges that they faced, she created a mentoring program geared to their particular needs. A graduate of James Hillhouse High School, Ms. Moye will be attending Howard University, where she plans to major in communications.
Alexander Epstein (New York, NY)
addressed a range of problems faced by citizens of New Orlean’s Lower 9th Ward as they tried to rebuild their community by creating, with his peers, the New York 2 New Orleans Coalition. The organization’s efforts helped make it possible for some 800 students volunteers to help rebuild New Orleans. He has extended his efforts to encourage students to become engaged in initiatives geared towards sustainability, economic development, food justice, and youth leadership in the Philadelphia community surrounding the college he attends, Temple University, where he is majoring in sociology.
Dylan Jared Assael (Woodbury, NY)
conducted original research regarding the relationship between picocyanobactria and silicon that might help chart a new approach for solving environmental challenges in the future. Given the key role that this organism plays in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, his research could have important implications for the ways in which we understand the response of the oceans and atmosphere to global climate change. A graduate of Syosset High School, he will be attending Dartmouth College, where he plans to major in biology and environmental science.
Ishan Sinha (Orange, CT)
conducted innovative research on the intersection between neuroscience and music. One project involved using music therapy to help a stroke victim regain speech. Another involved researching the ways in which music can impair driving skills--research which has been incorporated into the middle school curriculum in his town. A graduate of Amity High School in Woodbridge, he will be attending Yale University, where he plans to major in neuroscience and music.
More Past Winners:
Daniel Boccato (Yonkers High School, Yonkers, NY)
Recognizing that his community lacked a venue in which students could engage each other--as well as artists, parents and educators--in dialogue on creativity and the arts, Daniel created the ARENAgallery in Yonkers High School. Using his experience as an immigrant to the U.S., Daniel created portraits of himself and of his peers, and invited other teens to express themselves through media including oil paintings, linoleum prints and video productions that have formed the core of a series of successful exhibitions of student art organized around intriguing themes such as “Beautiful Audacity.” The gallery embodies the idea that Art can be a mechanism for social change--in Daniel’s words, “posing new problems, urging us to question the status quo and even ourselves.” He currently attends Cooper Union School of Art.
Irina Denisenko (Staten Island Technical High School, Staten Island, NY)
Irina was troubled by the fact that when patients are being treated for spinal cord injury, painful and expensive surgery is commonly the only option offered to treat the damage suffered by otherwise-healthy areas of the spine adjacent to the injury. She knew that researchers had met with little success when they tried to stimulate nerve action through the use static magnetic fields. But they had not explored the effectiveness of oscillating and pulsed magnetic fields. After extensive library research, Irina devised and conducted an experiment at the College of Staten Island’s neuroscience lab that demonstrated the potential of oscillating and pulsed magnetic fields to successfully stimulate sciatic nerves. Conclusions from her research have inspired other researchers to continue to explore the possibilities of repairing damaged nerves without surgical intervention. Irina currently attends the University of Pennsylvania and plans to major in Life Sciences and Management.
Victor M. Flores Jr. (Uniondale High School, Uniondale, NY)
Disturbed by the impact of pesticides on the environment and on the human health, Victor chose to explore the properties of a natural alternative to chemical pesticides: bio-pesticides known as plant elicitors, which can activate hormonal pathways in plants. While the use of chemical pesticides has been associated with problems including brain cancer, leukemia, birth defects and diabetes, the use of plant elicitors as a form of pest control has no side effects on humans. Victor conducted experiments that demonstrated not only that plant elicitors were effective in protecting pea plants against pea aphids, but also that they increased the plants’ rate of growth. His work has attracted the interest of professionals working in this field. He currently attends Harvard College.
Christina Yvonne Johnson (Renaissance High School, Bronx, NY)
Christina looked around her northeast Bronx neighborhood and realized that she was far from alone in having a weight problem: obesity was almost an epidemic among young people in her community, where parks were unsafe, and where the kind of outdoor activities that helped keep young people fit in other places were fraught with too many dangers to pursue. Christina addressed her own health issues and those of young people in her community by founding “Get Active, Get Healthy.” “Get Active, Get Healthy” addresses childhood obesity through a comprehensive set of prevention initiatives pursued in collaboration with Federal, State and local public agencies and the food industry. It creatively uses the Wii game, aerobics classes, bowling, etc. to combine fitness, exercise, good nutrition and fun. The program has coordinated a successful campaign to heighten awareness of Childhood Obesity, and to give the community tools to combat it. It has helped make Christina, and young people in her community, more healthy and fit. She currently attends Penn State University and plans to major in Biology and minor in Theater.
Alexandra Michele Larsen (Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY )
was aware of the fact that early diagnosis of autism could make a huge difference in the effectiveness of various treatments and in the long-term cost of a person's care; but she also knew that general nature of the symptoms made early diagnoses extremely difficult. Using an MEG (magnetoencephalography) machine, Alexandra found that some specific brain activity in subjects who had already been diagnosed as autistic was not present in subjects who did not have autism. Her research opens up possibilities for diagnosing autism much earlier than has been possible in the past. Since early intervention dramatically improves the quality of life for an autistic person and his or her family and has the potential to significantly reduce the annual $35 billion cost for care of people with autism in the U.S., her findings have far-reaching implications She currently attends Johns Hopkins University and plans to major in Public Health with a concentration in Neurology.
Olivia Rose Mahler-Haug (Branford High School, Branford, CT)
was excited to have the chance to teach a pottery class for children at the Eli Whitney Museum, but was stumped by what to do about the fact that it normally took much more than one week (the duration of the course) to design, craft, and fire pots. Olivia met this challenge by creating an innovative one-week “micropottery” class and portable clay studio that condensed the process of making pottery from theme to finished earthenware into tasks that could be completed in a week, with time left over for her to teach her young charges not only the craft of pottery-making, but also what pottery can reveal about different cultures. Her pupils left her course with a sense of the various forms and functions of the most iconic ceramics and vessels around the world, from celadon Chinese teapots, to carved English tiles to Native American etched pinch pots--and got to take home the miniature ceramics they had designed themselves
Tiara Alexis Marshall (Brentwood High School, Brentwood, NY)
Tiara knew that oil contamination posed tremendous problems for the water supply in the developing world--that the water supply in villages in Ecuador, for example, was still contaminated by oil from spills in the 1960s. But what if bacteria with the ability to digest oil could be enlisted to get rid of the oil in a community’s water supply? Tiara, who plans to pursue an education in environmental science, was the leader of a team of Brentwood High School students who explored the possibility of creating a cost-effective filtration system using a biofilm membrane to eliminate oil and other contaminants in water. Funded by the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams Initiative, which gives grants to invent technological solutions to real-world problems, the team collaborated with staff of the SUNY Stony Brook Garcia Laboratory to develop a biofilm and a pump housing unit as a prototype. If the pump proves successful when it is tested in Ecuador, Tiara and her colleagues plan to market it at cost to other communities plagued by oil-contaminated water supplies.
Nicholas James Wasko (Joel Barlow High School, Redding, CT)
loved drama, but the stage in his high school auditorium was so rundown as to be unsafe. To raise money for capital improvements to the Joel Barlow High School’s deteriorating performing arts theater, Nicholas founded an improv comedy troupe, Troupe du Jour, which was so successful that it raised not only the $15,000 needed for his school to purchase new curtains, a new lighting system, and a new stage floor, but an additional $30,000 as well (from sponsors and fans in the community) that it donated to Hurricane Katrina-related rebuilding efforts, the local food pantry, and other charitable organizations. Nicholas currently attends the University of Connecticut and plans to major in Neuroscience.
Jeremy Trungdzu Bui (Enfield High School, Enfield, CT)
After visiting his ancestral home of Phan-Rang in Vietnam, Jeremy saw a need to help impoverished children in the village gain greater access to education. Moved to action, he created the Viet-Sun Foundation with his brothers to provide academic scholarships for children in the village. His work involved building relationships with the families of Phan-Rang and with communities in the U.S. Through events, such as a sporting tournament and walk-a-thon, he successfully raised funds across the nation and increased awareness about the lack of educational opportunities for children in poorer nations. He currently attends the University of Connecticut and plans to major in Accounting or Finance.
Christopher Marquies Daniels (James Hillhouse High School, New Haven, CT)
How do you give the students who make up a tremendously diverse student body a sense of pride in their school and themselves? That’s the challenge Chris took on when he had the opportunity to design and paint murals at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, CT as part of an Art Club project. Themed “I Am,” Chris’s distinctive murals celebrate the diversity of the student population and the uniqueness of every student, while projecting an inspiring spirit of hope. He currently attends Paier College of Art and plans to major in graphic design.
Kasey Ross Glass (West Hill High School, Stamford, CT)
Kasey’s response to the dearth of opportunities in her community for teenagers to engage in meaningful community service while building self-esteem, was co-founding the Happy Club for Teens , an organization that helped her peers engage in activities that were both constructive and personally enriching. Members orchestrated food drives, raised funds for animal welfare, visited senior citizen centers, volunteered at drug rehabilitation residential facilities, and planted a Memorial Garden to the fallen soldiers of the Iraq War. She currently attends the University of Connecticut and plans to major in Psychology and Languages.
Mackenzie Eileen Goodrich (Bristol Eastern High School, Bristol, CT)
Although organizations in her community provided lunch and dinner to people in need, the hungry were on their own when it came to breakfast. To help fill this gap, Mackenzie created Mack’s Morning Meal at a local soup kitchen. Drawing on her years of volunteer experience in gathering food for food pantries and homeless shelters, Mackenzie organized local grocers, religious institutions, nonprofits and supportive community members to provide an additional meal for the hungry. In between breakfasts, she planned menus, solicited donations, and picked up food from various vendors. She currently attends College of the Holy Cross and plans to major in Pre-med and Biology.
Crystal Shannon Knox-Smith (Queens High School of Teaching, Laurelton, NY)
Concerned that young women in her community lacked the awareness and knowledge that could help them avoid abusive relationships, Crystal created the "NO DISRESPECT: abuse is not love" Domestic Violence Awareness patch program for the Senior Girl Scouting Gold Award. Crystal’s efforts involved collaboration with state and national organizations; the innovative and constructive patch program she developed has the potential to be replicated on the national level, where it would reinforce other initiatives designed to prevent domestic violence. She currently attends Penn State University and plans to major in Education.
Amalie M. Kwassman (Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn, NY ) When a stabbing occurred outside her school, Amalie Kwassman found herself wondering whether her peers had sufficient outlets for their intense emotions other than physical violence. Those doubts--combined with a love of words and expression she had had since third grade--led Amalie to found the “Poetry With a Purpose” Club, an activity designed to promote the use of creative expression to foster social justice and to provide her peers with an outlet for expressing their thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner at a particularly difficult time in their lives. She currently attends Smith College and plans to major in Creative Writing.
Gayatri Malhotra (Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY)
Although the adult Indian American Community had a magazine that spoke to their needs, Gayatri found that no such publication existed for children. Gayatri created the VishwaKids magazine for children to further peace and tolerance through the understanding of the diverse cultures of India. Gayatri’s project not only serves as a way to educate and entertain Indian American children, it also helps different religious and ethnic groups of the Indian American community find common ground. She currently attends Barnard College and plans to major in Biochemistry and French.
Alexa Louise Muri (Lewis S. Mills, Burlington, CT)
The abandoned two-hundred-year-old one-room school house in her town struck Alexa as a wasted opportunity. In cooperation with her local historical society, she turned it into a thriving and educational window on history. She initiated the renovation and secured assistance from Historical Society members and volunteers. And she developed a curriculum on colonial life to bring an important part of our nation’s history to life for grade school children. She currently attends the College of William & Mary and plans to major in International Business.
Tyler Samuel Nighswander (Hamden High School, Hamden, CT)
Tyler found that the conventional materials used to teach electronics to children were not sufficiently engaging the children he taught at the Eli Whitney Museum, so he developed materials of his own. Working with another high school student and a college student, Tyler designed a paper schematic glued to fiber board with aluminum strips; he later supplied copper strips which enabled the children to place electrical components anywhere on the board, thereby constructing unique models. Tyler’s innovations made learning electronics much more fun for his students. They taught basic concepts and problem solving-skills and helped children experiment and apply those concepts to their own creations. He currently attends Carnegie Mellon University and plans to major in Computer Science.
Benjamin Kevin Nissan (Collegiate School, New York, NY)
While at a school assembly, Benjamin learned about the dangers of climate change from a former student who is an environmentalist and became determined to find new ways to reduce the environmental impact of human activity. One day, while looking up at the lights in school, he decided to tackle strategies for reducing his school’s energy consumption. After some detective work, he discovered that the school was wasting a lot of energy: old lighting fixtures provided the same amount of light all the time, whether or not sunlight was streaming in through the windows. Benjamin developed a plan to reduce energy waste through the use photosensors that dimmed the artificial light in a room according to the level of ambient light that was available. His work demonstrated that the energy used from lighting could be reduced by 80-90% in most rooms and informed the school’s Physical Plant and Finance Directors’ decision to implement a project to make the necessary modifications over three years. Benjamin’s work serves as a model for others to take an active role in addressing climate change and environmental issues. He currently attends Harvard College.
George Henry Ortega (Dalton High School, New York, NY)
George’s little brother never spent enough time brushing his teeth: the reasons to brush were too abstract to convince him to brush long enough to do the job. But what if he could get his little brother to view brushing as doing heroic battle against evil germs? George transformed the abstract concept of a germ into a somewhat evil-looking cartoon-like character that he affixed to a home-made timer. The result was getting his brotherexcited by the notion that if he brushed his teeth for two minutes, he could defeat evil germs like the one on his timer. George worked with the National Foundation for Entrepreneurs to develop his innovative creation into a product that can help children become early adopters of good oral hygiene, an important component of overall health. His product is patent-pending. He currently attends Yale College and plans to major in English and Economics.
Stephanie Paola Peraffan (Forest Hills High School, Forest Hills, NY)
Stephanie knew that New York City had a Condom Availability Program that had the potential to reduce teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases among high school students in New York but students in her school were not taking advantage of it. Stephanie worked with Miranda Rupchand to investigate why--and to develop a series of creative strategies to make students aware of the health resources available to them, and encourage them to use them. She currently attends Queensborough Community College.
Priya Gautam Ranade (East Lyme High School, East Lyme, CT)
Troubled by the lack of screening guidelines for melanoma, Priya developed an innovative preventive screening program to minimize melanoma deaths. The computer simulation model she developed has the potential of reducing the toll taken by melanoma, the only cancer for which incidence and death rate continues to increase. She currently attends the University of Connecticut and plans to major in Pre-med and Biology.
Miranda Rupchand (Forest Hills High School, Forest Hills, NY)
Miranda knew that New York City had a Condom Availability Program that had the potential to reduce teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases among high school students in New York but students in her school were not taking advantage of it. Miranda worked with Stephanie Perrafan to investigate why--and to develop a series of creative strategies to make students aware of the health resources available to them, and encourage them to use them. She currently attends John Jay College and plans to major in Computer Science and Law.
Zak David Smolen (Staples High School, Westport, CT)
Zak was an avid fencer who needed more practice than he could rely on sparring partners to provide. He transformed a personal interest into a public benefit by using his knowledge of physics, golf balls and counter weights to invent an automated fencing practice target that his coach plans to have the fencing team use from now on. He currently attends Union College and plans to major in Electrical Engineering.
Michael Tom (Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT)
Recognizing that people with the medical condition known as neurogenic bladder have great difficulty determining when their bladders are full, Tom invented a tensiometer to measure tissue tension. Tom’s invention could be developed into an implantable device that that could send individuals a signal about bladder fullness when they needed it. It has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of people who experience complications associated with neurogenic bladder, such as urinary incontinence, infections of the bladder and kidney stones. He currently attends Harvard College and plans to major in Physics.
Heather Marie Allen (Somers High School) knew from first-hand experience how difficult it was for hospitalized children to write and draw comfortably in bed. She creatively improved the lives of hospitalized children by designing and producing special stainless steel lap easels that make it easier for bedridden children to draw and write. She will use her scholarship at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Stephen Ross Bukowsky (The Morgan School, Clinton) pioneered new designs for pulse jet engines.
Anjali Deshmukh (East Lyme High School) knew that her classmates could do more to help victims of floods, earthquakes, and mudslides abroad and poverty and bigotry at home. She devised a range of creative strategies to mobilize her classmates to become more engaged in supporting world disaster-relief efforts and in fighting bigotry in their school and community.
Arthur Philip Dutra (O.H. Platt High School, Meriden) designed and built the world's first holonomic or omni-directional-drive robot using VEX components.
Noting that his community seemed largely oblivious to the history that had shaped it, Peter Eason (Fairfield Prep) brought the past alive in his hometown by researching, taking photographs for, writing, and publishing a small book that made it easy for residents and visitors to take an informative historical walking tour. He donated funds raised by the sale of the book to the local historical society.
Gregory Michael Fisher (South Windsor High School) created a summer soccer program for pre-schoolers as an innovative way of supporting his local food bank.
Sean Dolan Hildebrandt (Branford High School) created photographs of abandoned industrial buildings that encourage New Englanders to look at the legacies of their industrial past in fresh ways.
Whitney Dyshaun Kelley (Co-Op High School, New Haven) used imagination and enterprise to meet the challenge of making New Haven's program in Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP) more responsive to the needs of the young people it serves by developing the program's Youth Council. She also engaged as a poet some of the same social issues she addressed in her work with urban youth. She will use her scholarship at Temple University.
Aerim Kim (Greenwich High School) assisted North Korean refugees and increased student awareness of the problems faced by refugees around the world by creating a Refugee Aid Club in her school.
Hugo Lara (East Haven High School) was disturbed that his community held negative stereotypes of artists as self-centered and unconcerned about the world around them, and that the arts were not encouraged in his town. He countered that stereotype and the place of the arts in East Haven by creating a club called STATE of the Arts--Students Taking Action Through Expressive Arts, which turned an abandoned storefront in downtown East Haven into a vibrant gallery and performance space for young artists. He also created Art with a Heart, a program to deliver one hundred art kits to children in third world countries where war and poverty have disrupted their education.
Erica LeCount (Bunnell High School, Stratford) was troubled by the fact that many local minority children whose families count not afford a conventional sports camp missed the chance to play soccer, the sport she loved. So she created the Kick Start Youth Soccer Clinic for these children, motivating varsity soccer players at three high schools to donate their services, and persuading local businesses to donate funds.
Concerned about the negative effects of bullying on students from elementary school to high school, Dana Lovallo (RHAM High School, Hebron) made an innovative video that helped spark constructive community conversations about bullying locally and around the state.
Troubled by watching fellow teenagers in his community succumb to despair and defeat in the face of the violence and poverty that surrounded them, Jonathan Moreno (Bridgeport High) wrote, composed and recorded an album of Christian rap songs designed to inspire them to recognize both their vulnerability and their potential, to reject anger, and to strive to achieve positive goals. Sales of the recording raised money for his church.
Tara Marie Moriarty (New Fairfield High School) created an organization that transformed the social experience of children in Special Education in her school by integrating them with peers in a range of activities outside the classroom.
Danielle Patrice Myers (Hartford High School) created, produced, and directed a distinctive stage production about Black history and culture.
Rachel Kauder Nalebuff (Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford) compiled a collection of first period narratives' from women around the world into a book that will help illuminate, with empathy, humor and insight, a usually invisible aspect of women's lived experience. New York Times article on Rachel Nalebuff's project
Charles Gordon Nathanson (Hamden High) expanded the science and math offerings for top students at his high school by developing a curriculum and teaching two advanced courses himself.
Edward Joseph Quish (Jonathan Law High School, Milford) creatively explored connections between poetry, philosophy, and science.
Mark Adam Schneider (South Windsor High School) ingeniously mapped the spread of the West Nile Virus through computer simulation of its progress. He also brought history to life with imagination and Ăllan in an original play and novel. He will use his scholarship at Yale University.
Realizing that many students couldn't even locate major countries on the map, Marybeth Tamborra (Norwich Free Academy) organized ground-breaking activities to spread knowledge of world geography.
Colin Theys (Amity Regional High School, Woodbridge) turned his personal fascination with creating imaginative, compelling 3D computer graphics into an internet-based international network of artists that pioneered in sharing new experimental techniques and applications. He brings an inventive, creative spirit to a range of endeavors from animation to rocketry.
Vadim Tsipenyuk (The Hopkins School, New Haven), came up with an innovative way of addressing the problem of senior citizens' wariness of computers; the program he created, Surfing USA, helped senior citizens at Woodbridge Senior Center learn to navigate the information superhighway.
Mansur Iskanderovitch Tokmouline (New Fairfield High School) addressed the problem of how to help minors who have committed misdemeanors get back on track by devising a plan to create a Juvenile Review Board in his town.
Angeline Marie Ucci (East Hampton High and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts) channelled personal emotional challenges into a series of paintings that creatively rework familiar paintings by famous artists into commentaries on contemporary culture.
Jenny R. Urfer (Newtown High School) developed a set of innovative and successful strategies for teaching pottery skills to the blind.
Lily Yeung (Danbury High) responded to the genocide in Darfur by conceiving and helping to produce a short documentary that became an effective means of combating apathy and ignorance.
The Renee B. Fisher Foundation congratulates all of these students for their innovative solutions to individual and community problems, and for demonstrating their creativity in a broad range of fields.