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March 8, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

Butler, New Castle science students win SRU scholarships; access to May contest

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Jessica Marinaro, a senior at Butler Area Senior High School, and John Maas, a junior at New Castle Junior-Senior High School, took first place honors in the 56th Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Region IX, including four-year, $12,000 scholarships to Slippery Rock University, which hosted the event.

The scholarships are contingent on the students enrolling at SRU.

Marinaro's project, in the biochemistry category, was titled "The Effect of pH on Enzyme Activity." Her school sponsor was Veronica Sankey.

Maas' project, in the computer science category, was titled "Bridging the Dimensional Gap." His school sponsor was William Bradley.

"As always, it was exciting to have more than 400 junior high and high school science students on campus for the day presenting their science research and competing for the prizes," said William Sigmund, SRU professor of biology and campus coordinator for the regional meeting.

The event included a full day of presentations in a variety of campus buildings along with a judges' luncheon, a participants' dinner in Boozel Dining Hall and an awards ceremony in the Smith Student Center.

The program's six Special Awards, which include $100 awards from SRU academic departments, went to:

  • David Shipe, a junior biology student from Freeport Senior High School. His sponsor, Donald Orlowski, received the $200 Senior High Biology Mentor Award.
  • Hannah Broniszewski, a freshman at Quigley Catholic High School. Her sponsor, Janet Bonislawsky, received the $200 Junior High Biology Mentor Award.
  • Jose' Olivas, a sophomore at the Opus Fortis Home, sponsored by Kathleen Orient, earned the Senior High Mathematics Award.
  • David Blum, a seventh grader at Butler Area Middle School, sponsored by Donna Nunamaker, earned the Junior High Mathematics Award.
  • Jessica Marinaro, a senior at Butler Senior High School, sponsored by Veronica Sankey, won the Senior High Chemistry Award.
  • William Morgus, an eighth grader at Butler Catholic School, sponsored by Jayne Chobot, won the Junior High Chemistry Award.

The Region IX Committee also provided a number of other awards, including $30 gift cards from Staples.

Melissa McCutcheon, an SRU biology major from Franklin, received the $300 William R. Sigmund PJAS Award, created several years ago by the Region IX Committee to honor Sigmund's work with the project. The award goes to an SRU student planning to teach biology.

As part of the program, the junior high and high school students presented eight- to 10-minute reviews of their research projects to a panel of three judges who then evaluated their presentations and provided ratings.

The judge panels included college professors, high school teachers, people in business and medical professions in the disciplines, and college students.

Those earning "First Place" ratings are invited to participate in the state competition at Pennsylvania State University in May.

SRU has hosted the event for the past 16 years.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.