BCHS students win three research awards at Regeneron Science Fair

Two Bethlehem Central High School students earned three science research awards at the Regeneron Greater Capital Region Science and Engineering Fair. The event was held Mar. 16 at RPI in Troy. The science fair featured research entries from 86 Capital Region students.

You can read about the BC student awards and their research projects below:

Maeve McCarthy 

student stands in front of tri-fold display
BCHS senior Maeve McCarthy

Senior Maeve McCarthy earned two science research awards at the Regeneron Greater Capital Region Science and Engineering Fair. 

The STANYS: Eleanor Miller Reed Science Research Award was awarded to McCarthy for a project that “captures the spirit of science research.” McCarthy also won the NASA Earth System Science Award, awarded to the research project that exhibited a clear and focused purpose on Earth System Science that is testable using the science process.

McCarthy has been a student in the Science Research class at BCHS for three years studying seismology and geodynamics. The Regeneron Greater Capital Region Science and Engineering Fair is optional for students during the third year of Science Research at the high school.

McCarthy’s research which looks at the earth’s crustal structure beneath mountainous Western Canada, began in summer 2023. 

“My study investigates intracratonic uplift, focusing on the interaction between subducting oceanic crust and thick continental crust, using the Canadian Rockies,” said McCarthy, who spent seven weeks last summer working on the project as part of the Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University.

“Through seismic tomography and receiver function analysis from 248 seismic stations in Western Canada, my research estimates crustal thickness and Vp/Vs ratios,” said McCarthy.

“The research shows variable crustal thickness with an average Moho depth of 31.45 km, and a moderate correlation between Moho depth and elevation”, said McCarthy.  The Moho is the area between the Earth’s crust and the mantle. 

“My study enhances the understanding of crustal structure in Western Canada, laying the groundwork for further research into subsurface geodynamics,” said McCarthy.

Mr. Georgios Athanassiadis, who teaches Science Research at the high school, sponsored McCarthy’s entry in the science fair.

McCarthy’s research will likely continue when Maeve enrolls at Cornell next year to study Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a concentration in Geological Sciences. 

You can read Maeve McCarthy’s science research here [PDF].

student stands in front of tri-fold display
BCHS Junior Aaditya Ojha

Aaditya Ojha

Junior Aaditya Ojha earned the U.S. Navy Office of Research Award at the Regeneron Greater Capital Region Science and Engineering Fair. 

Ojha’s project focuses on the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria which is responsible for causing meningitis in millions of people every year.

“The severity of the disease is dependent on the capsular polysaccharide composition, which is called a serogroup,” said Ojha. “Of the 12 different serogroups, six of them can cause a life-threatening disease.

“Identification of the organism’s serogroup is traditionally done through biochemical assays, but my research focused on computational approaches to identify the serogroup. This included analysis of whole genome sequences using Python scripts.”

Ojha said he began work on his project in November 2023 and is continuing to expand on it

“I am interested in computer science and science, so I wanted to combine those two fields together. The lab I work with does a lot of computational biology, and they wanted to do more investigation into methods of serogrouping,” said Ojha. “I found the project really interesting and it combined computer science and biology very nicely, which is why I picked it.”

Ojha said that while he is not a student in the school’s Science Research program, he looks forward to continuing the research through the summer and into next year. Ojha’s entry in the science fair was sponsored by K-12 science supervisor Jen Gonyea. 

You can read Aaditya Ojha’s science research here [PDF].

Congratulations to Maeve and Aadi on these prestigious awards!