"It's rare to see this level of progress achieved in an independent project, but Vikas has single-handedly advanced pain reduction for ophthalmic patients," said competition judge Dr. W. Matthew Leevy, Research Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Director, Biological Imaging at the University of Notre Dame. "Vikas identified a problem and invented a device - after a successful critical trial. This sort of exhaustive and thorough problem solving is worth celebrating."Vikas Maturi aspires to be a social designer or design engineer and anticipates majoring in product design and/or biomechanical engineering in college. Vikas is especially inspired by the growing incorporation of engineering in the social design world - he loves his Engineering Design and Development class. Currently, Vikas and his research collaborator are modeling and prototyping a product that captures, redirects and filters flood water in developing countries. Outside of the classroom, Vikas enjoys playing soccer and piano, and also serves as president of TechHOUNDS Robotics, of which he leads a 140-person team and implements STEM outreach initiatives. Vikas' mentor is Dr. Kimberly Vogt, Professor of Biology at Marian University. The Winning Team for Region Three Evelyn McChesney of Golden Valley, Minn. and Madeline McCue of Minneapolis won the team category and will share a $6,000 scholarship for their project entitled, "Engineering a broad-spectrum antibacterial probiotic via inclusion of antimicrobial peptide - encoding DNA, year two." The team of Evelyn and Madeline engineered a genetic system that can be used to turn commonplace bacteria into antibiotics. With this project the world can combat the growing amount of antibiotic- resistant pathogenic bacteria that are causing major problems in global health care. "Observing the balanced partnership of Evelyn and Madeline was impressive and an important aspect to the quality of their collaborative project," said competition judge Dr. Jed Fisher, Research Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame. "The scientific dialogue, commenced by one team member and enhanced by the other, showcased the depth of their study and the application of their antibiotics alternative."
Evelyn McChesney, a senior at Breck School in Golden Valley, Minn., is a second-degree black belt, serves as captain of her school's Robotics Team and was the recipient of the Science Department Book Award. Evelyn looks to her mother as her role model and has always been inspired by her passion for work no matter how stressful it may be.Madeline McCue, a senior at Breck School in Golden Valley, Minn., has been named a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist and received the First Grand Prize at the Minnesota Academy of Science State Science Fair. Coming from a pair of physician parents, Madeline has been hearing about medical updates around the dinner table for many years. Her father taught her about the basic principles of algebra when she was three and she has been hooked ever since. Madeline speaks English, Spanish, Italian and Vulcan. She has performed in a circus and enjoys playing the piano and dancing. The team's mentors are Ms. Louis Fruen, Science Research Instructor at Breck School and Dr. Yiannis Kaznessis, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota. Regional Finalists The remaining regional finalists each received a $1,000 scholarship. Regional Finalists in the individual category were:
- Tushar Dwivedi, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, Ill.
- Sarvasva "Savy" Raghuvanshi, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, Ill.
- Leah Umanskiy, University of Chicago Laboratory High School, Chicago
- Rachel Zhang, Parkway South High School, Manchester, Mo.
- Cole Maxwell, Breck School, Golden Valley, Minn. and Isabella Jennings, Breck School, Golden Valley, Minn.
- Kevin Qian, Wayzata High School, Plymouth, Minn. and David Herman, Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys, Woodmere, N.Y.
- Pranav Sivakumar, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, Ill. and Paul Nebres, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, Ill.
- Emily Sun, Park Tudor School, Indianapolis, Ind. and Jessica Mo, Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind.
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